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Supreme Court declines tobacco appeal

March 26, 2012 at 7:13 PM

WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to review a $28.3 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco in the death of a Florida smoker.

The court decided not to hear the appeal in the case of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. vs. Mathilde Martin without comment, MedPage Today reported.

The case involved smoker Benny Martin, who died of lung cancer in 1995. His wife Mathilde was part of a 1994 class-action suit against several cigarette manufacturers, including R.J. Reynolds.

The case was decided in favor of the plaintiffs, but a Florida Supreme Court ruled the case could not go forward as a class-action suit, allowing individual plaintiffs to pursue their own cases against the tobacco companies.

Mathilde Martin won her case in 2009, with the jury assigning RJR 66 percent of the responsibility for Benny Martin's death. She was awarded $3.3 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.

The tobacco company appealed to U.S. District Court in Florida and a three-judge panel ruled unanimously in favor of Martin. That verdict was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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