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Nov 13, 3:01 AM EST

Jury awards $35M damages to Florida smoker


BARTOW, Fla. (AP) -- A jury in Polk County has awarded $35 million in damages to a former Florida smoker who underwent two lung transplants.

The jury's decision Wednesday on behalf of 61-year-old Richard Boatright of Bartow against Philip Morris USA and the Liggett Group tobacco companies. The cigarette makers routinely appeal all such verdicts.

Attorney Sheldon Schlesinger says Boatright started smoking at age 12 and liked the cowboy used in Marlboro ads.

The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion class action verdict.

That ruling said smokers or families need only individually prove addiction and that smoking caused their illnesses or deaths. It's taken as given that the companies sold a defective and dangerous product and hid smoking risks.

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