Page last updated at 08:08 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Tobacco firm Philip Morris to pay $300m in damages

A smoker flicks ash in an ashtray
Marlboro is the biggest selling brand in the US

A Florida court has ordered tobacco giant Philip Morris to pay $300m (£180m) in damages to a former smoker.

The 62-year-old, Cindy Naugle, is wheelchair bound because of the lung disease emphysema.

Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro cigarettes, said it will challenge the verdict because of "numerous erroneous rulings by the trial judge".

Its spokesman said that the punitive damages are "grossly excessive and a clear violation... of the law".

Ms Naugle started smoking in 1968, aged 20, to make herself look older.

The payout is the result of a major class-action suit in 2006 which was thrown out of court.

About 8,000 individual cases were filed subsequently. This is thought to be the biggest payout so far.

The judge awarded $56.6m for medical expenses and $244m in punitive damages.

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