Fernando Rey never smoked cigarettes made by Lorillard or Liggett Group, but his widow and their two children claimed an appellate victory against them Wednesday as sick smokers make a strategic gain in lawsuits against the tobacco industry.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled civil conspiracy claims by Martha Rey will stick against several tobacco companies, providing the first appellate guidance for judges who until now routinely let cigarette makers out of cases if smokers never used their brands.