92-year-old wins $1.9 million tobacco judgment over wife’s death..

August 13, 2009 - A Florida jury awarded a 92-year-old man $1.9 million in compensatory damages for the death of his wife, a former two-pack-a-day Marlboro smoker who started when she was 16 and died in her 70s, attorneys said Thursday.

The jury of five women and one man deliberated for slightly more than a day before awarding a total of $5.3 million and finding Philip Morris USA 36.5 percent responsible for the lung cancer that plaintiffs said killed Leon Barbanell’s wife, Shirley, attorneys for both sides said.

Shirley Barbanell herself was deemed 63.5 percent responsible.

Plaintiff’s attorney Jonathan Gdanski said the jury found a design defect and a breach of warranty.

Philip Morris announced that it plans to appeal the case, one of thousands of “Engle progeny” cases, named after a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that decertified a class-action lawsuit against the tobacco industry. That case involved Dr. Howard A. Engle, a Miami Beach pediatrician and smoker who served as the lead plaintiff in the class-action suit.

The decertification decision let former class members file lawsuits individually, and thousands did.

Reference: 92-year-old wins $1.9 million tobacco judgment over wife’s death, CNN.com, 8/13/2009.

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