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A Los Angeles jury Thursday ordered Philip Morris Inc. to pay $850,000 to a former smoker who sued the tobacco company for fraud and negligence. Jurors awarded Betty Bullock, 64, of Newport Beach, Calif., $750,000 in economic damages and $100,000 for pain and suffering. Bullock started smoking when she was 17 and was diagnosed last year with lung cancer that has since spread to her liver. “She is happy she has survived long enough to see justice,” said Bullock’s attorney, Michael Piuze. A second phase of the trial, scheduled to begin Tuesday, will determine any punitive damages. William Ohlemeyer, Philip Morris’ vice president and associate general counsel, declined comment pending the completion of the trial. In a shift from its strategy in earlier civil cases, Philip Morris did not defend its past actions in the trial. Instead, the company focused on Bullock’s decision to smoke. “If she had stopped smoking … even in the 1980s, she would not have lung cancer today,” Philip Morris attorney Peter Bleakley told jurors at the start of the trial in August. Piuze argued that Philip Morris concealed the dangers of cigarettes with a widespread disinformation campaign that began in the 1950s, when his client started smoking. Bullock’s case has drawn extra interest because it follows a state supreme court ruling that grants cigarette makers a window of immunity. The Aug. 5 decision said most statements and acts by the tobacco companies between 1988 and 1998 cannot be used as evidence against them because of a now-repealed state law. That window covers tobacco executives’ testimony, given to Congress in 1994, that their product was not addictive. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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