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Virginia tobacco company loses round one in Florida court

Richmond-based Altria Group Inc. has an initial setback in a sick smoker trial.

According to The Miami Herald, a Florida jury found that a chain smoker’s death was directly attributable to his addiction to cigarettes.

Elaine Hess, whose husband Stuart died from lung cancer at age 55, sued Philip Morris USA claiming his death was the result of an addiction to nicotine. Stuart smoked approximately two packs a day of the Philip Morris brand, Benson & Hedges, from the time he was a teenager up until his death.

Philip Morris argued that Stuart Hess was not physically addicted to their product. Rather, he chose not to stop smoking.

While this case doesn’t affect the outcome of similar lawsuits, it could potentially be a sign of things to come for the tobacco industry.

Deliberations to determine the amount of damages begin today.

By Sarah Rodriguez

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