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Court ruling on product liability affects smokers

Smoking has been around since man discovered fire and tobacco produced an interesting effect. We now know smoking is one of the leading causes of several types of cancer, and people who smoke maintain it is their constitutional right to inhale as much smoke into their lungs as possible. Further thwarted by subsequent evidence of second hand smoke, it has become a challenge for those wishing to indulge to find a smoke-free zone in most communities. Illinois is no exception.

However, smoking Illinoisans are eyeing their neighbor to the southeast for a surprising turn of events.

The Sunshine State has smokers smiling amidst the plumes. A Florida Supreme Court has turned a deaf ear to the outcry from multi-billion dollar cigarette companies. The highest law in the state has denied hearing appeals from Philip Morris, USA, Lorillard Tobacco Company, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Compnay.

These conglomerate, tobacco-production entities requested a review of prior court rulings which awarded judgments in excess of $70 million to smokers using their products. The tobacco companies based their request on the lack of evidence presented by the claimants, who also charged the tobacco companies of doing little to hide the risks of using their products.

One only needs to walk outside any office building in Illinois to see that most smokers are blissfully puffing away in denial of any alleged health risk, content with the Florida Supreme Court's move to turn away all appeals from tobacco manufacturers with nary a comment.

A prior class-action lawsuit from a Florida court ruled individual smokers or their surviving relatives could cite jury findings in similar lawsuits. The verdict in the previous case had been overturned because it had not been proven the the person addicted to cigarettes had become seriously ill or died from the tobacco product.

While the fate of cigarette smokers and the tobacco companies remains a blurred line on the horizon, product liability is a great cause for concern in the Land of Lincoln. When consumers purchase a product we expect it to be safe. If you have been subjected to a dangerous product that has caused damage to you or a loved one, you should get further information from an individual who can explain your rights regarding injuries from unsafe consumer goods.

Source:  The San Francisco Chronicle, "Justices let stand $70M in awards to smokers" No author given, Jun. 09, 2014

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