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Tobacco Verdict Overturned

A state appeals court reversed a $1 million landmark liability verdict against the tobacco industry Thursday, ruling that a trial judge should have moved the case to Palm Beach County, where the dead man's relatives live.


The Jacksonville trial judge failed to grant a change of venue requested by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. in the suit brought by the widow and daughter of Roland Maddox, the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled.

The verdict was only the third time a jury has awarded damages in a tobacco liability case. Both other cases also were overturned on appeal.

Maddox was diagnosed in the fall of 1996 and died a year later at age 67. His family sued Brown & Williamson, claiming the company was negligent, made a defective product, and conspired with other tobacco companies to hide the health risks of smoking from the public.

In June, the jury awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages and $450,000 in punitive damages to the Maddox family, as well as $52,249 to Blue Cross and Blue Shield as repayment for Maddox's medical expenses.