Verdict against Philip Morris reversed

Feb. 23, 2012 at 12:11 PM

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A Florida appeals court overturned a $1.95 million judgment against tobacco giant Philip Morris in a wrongful death suit filed by a smoker's husband.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday Shirley Barbanell knew years before the suit was filed that smoking endangered her health.

Barbanell, who quit smoking in April 1996 and died of lung cancer at age 73 less than a month later, had been part of a 1994 class-action suit that was thrown out, but the decision allowed the plaintiffs, including her husband, Leon, to file individual claims.

Under Florida law, plaintiffs have four years to take legal actions against companies accused of fraud by concealment and negligence.

Leon Barbanell won his case against Philip Morris in August 2009.

However, the jury in that case found Shirley Barbanell knew before 1990 that smoking was killing her, the appeals court said. She noticed health problems from the late 1960s, the jury found.

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