Dying Florida Ex-Smoker Awarded $37.5 Million
MIAMI, FL -- June 28, 2002 -- A Florida jury ordered three cigarette companies to pay $37.5 million to an ex-smoker who lost his tongue to tobacco-related oral cancer (Florida Sun-Sentinel, June 12, 2002). John Lukacs, age 76, was a heavy smoker for 30 years before he finally quit the habit in 1971. He is dying of both oral and bladder cancer, which he developed in the early 1990's.
The jury found that the tobacco companies, Phillip Morris, Brown & Williamson, and Liggett, made a product that contributed to Mr. Lukacs' illness. He relied on their false statements and advertising about smoking, according to the ruling.
Mr. Lukacs' individual trial stems from the Engle case, a class action suit against the tobacco industry that resulted in a verdict of almost $145 billion in punitive damages for about 700,000 Florida smokers. The tobacco companies have appealed the case to Florida's Third District Court of Appeals. Mr. Lukacs, who is not expected to live more than another seven months, will not be able to collect the $37.5 million unless the plaintiffs win the Engle appeal.
For more information about tobacco and disease, read about a Kansas tobacco lawsuit involving a smoker with peripheral vascular disease, and check the government web site, Tobacco Information and Prevention Source.