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Smoker hopes $51.5 million award can stem youth smoking

Henley
Henley

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CNN interviews plaintiff Patricia Henley
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February 11, 1999
Web posted at: 1:21 p.m. EST (1821 GMT)

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- A former smoker with inoperable lung cancer, awarded $51.5 million in damages in her lawsuit against a tobacco company, says she'll donate any money she receives to educate youngsters about the dangers of smoking.

"We have a huge problem in this country with teen-age smoking, and there's a lot of groups out there that have pulled together to try to help stop children," Patricia Henley, 52, told CNN on Thursday. "I intend to see that the money goes to these organizations and any organization that will try to prevent children from smoking."

The former three-pack-a-day smoker, who had her first cigarette at age 15, convinced a jury that Philip Morris concealed the risks and addictiveness of smoking, and a San Francisco Superior Court jury rewarded her by returning the largest verdict ever in a tobacco lawsuit filed by an individual -- $51.5 million.

Henley won $50 million in punitive damages Wednesday on top of $1.5 million in compensation awarded by the Superior Court jury a day earlier.

Philip Morris said it would appeal. "The jurors unfortunately let their feelings of sympathy get in the way," said William Ohlemeyer, a company representative.

Henley also told CNN her cancer is in remission. Her lawyer, however, said she did not expect Henley to survive the appeals process, usually two to three years.


RELATED STORIES:
Transcript of Henley Interview:'This Was a Case of Passion'
February 11, 1999
Justice Department wants $20 million to sue tobacco industry
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Counseling can be key to quitting smoking
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RELATED SITES:
Philip Morris
U.S. Surgeon General
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Smoke-Free Kids
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