Next phase of smoker lawsuit begins

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A jury is being asked to decide if
tobacco giant Philip Morris caused the lung cancer death of a
four-decade smoker through deceptive and misleading practices or
whether the smoker himself bore the lion's share of responsibility
by failing to quit.

The six-person jury has already found that Stuart Hess was
hopelessly addicted to nicotine before his 1997 death at age 55.

The case is the first of some 8,000 similar Florida lawsuits to
go to trial. And the Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that
Philip Morris and other tobacco companies knowingly sold dangerous
products and conspired to conceal that information from the public.

A Philip Morris attorney contends there was ample evidence of
smoking's risks even when Hess started in the 1950s and that the
Richmond, Va.-based company did not set out to harm him.

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