Court won't get involved in Florida tobacco case

March 26, 2012 - 11:35 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is refusing to overturn a $28.3 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in the first of about 8,000 lawsuits that have been filed against cigarette companies in Florida.

The high court on Monday refused to hear appeals of a Pensacola, Fla., jury's award to the family of Benny Martin, who died of lung cancer in 1995.

R.J. Reynolds lawyers argued that the case should be overturned because Florida judges aren't making plaintiffs prove cigarette makers knowingly sold dangerous and defective products. People suing cigarette companies only have to prove addiction, and that their illnesses, or deaths of family members, were caused by cigarettes.

The cigarette company says that standard violates due process. But the Supreme Court — without comment — refused to hear their argument.