Appeals court sends smokers' case back to trial court

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An appellate court has ordered a new trial in a smokers' suit because a trial judge failed to provide the jury with factually relevant instructions.

A 1st District Court of Appeal panel split 2-1 Friday in its ruling that the lower-court judge should have deviated from standard jury instructions and given added instructions sought by the R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard tobacco companies.
The appeal arose from a jury award of damages to the estate of Barbara Jewett, a smoker who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A large part of the estate's argument was when Jewett knew or reasonably should have known that smoking was the cause of her lung disease.
It's one of several thousand cases resulting from a 2006 Florida Supreme Court's decision that overturned excessive awards to victims.

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