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U.S. Supreme Court rejects tobacco appeal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court Friday rejected an appeal by one of the nation's largest tobacco companies, which sought to overturn a landmark verdict in favor of a former Florida smoker who lost a lung to cancer.

The court refused to hear the appeal by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., a unit of British American Tobacco PLC, the world's second-largest cigarette company, in the product liability lawsuit won by Grady Carter, who was awarded $750,000 in damages.

The justices, without comment, let stand a Florida Supreme Court ruling that reinstated the jury award to Carter, 70, a retired air traffic controller from Orange Park, Fla. It was the second verdict ever against a cigarette maker in a smoking case.


The court denied the Brown & Williamson appeal a day after it gave the tobacco industry an important victory by striking down Massachusetts advertising restrictions at retail outlets and outdoor sites near schools and playgrounds.


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Carter, who started smoking Brown & Williamson's Lucky Strike cigarettes at age 16, gave up smoking only after he had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 1991.

He sued the Louisville-based company in 1995 and a jury in Jacksonville awarded $750,000 in damages the next year, finding that cigarettes are defective and that the manufacturer had negligently failed to warn people about the dangers of smoking.

In appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brown & Williamson argued the liability award against it was barred by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1969.

A state appeals court reversed the award nearly two years later, saying Carter had waited too long to go to court. Last fall, the court reversed again and reinstated Carter's victory.


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