Florida Jury Awards Smoker $1 Million But Finds Her 70 Percent Liable For Injury

Florida Jury Awards Smoker $1 Million But Finds Her 70 Percent Liable For Injury

DELAND, Fla. - (Mealey's) A Florida circuit court jury awarded $1 million to a 77-year-old Daytona Beach, Fla., woman on April 7 but also found her 70 percent responsible for her lung cancer (Stella Koballa, et al. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al., No. 2007-33334-CICI, Fla. Cir., Volusia Co.).

The jury before Judge Robert Rouse Jr. of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida for Volusia County found in a March 31 Phase 1 verdict that Stella Koballa was addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine and that the addiction was the cause of her lung cancer but not of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/emphysema.  

In the second phase of the trial, the jury on April 7 found that neither negligence on the part of Philip Morris USA Inc. nor a defective or dangerous condition of cigarettes was a legal cause of Koballa's cancer.  The jury awarded Koballa $1 million for pain, suffering and other injuries stemming from her cancer but apportioned 70 percent of the liability to her and 30 percent to Philip Morris.  Judge Rouse will order the final apportionment of compensation.  

Koballa began smoking in 1949, when she was16, according to a published report.  Lung cancer was discovered in 1996, according to the report, necessitating the removal of part of her lung. After that she quit smoking, the report says.  

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the April issue of Mealey's Litigation Report: Tobacco.  In the meantime, the verdict slips are available at www.mealeysonline.com or by calling the Customer Support Department at 1-800-833-9844.  Phase 1 verdict slip.  Document #04-110420-021V.  Phase 2 slip.  Document #04-110420-022V.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.] 

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For more information, call editor Michael Lefkowitz at 215-988-7732, or e-mail him at michael.lefkowitz@lexisnexis.com. 

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