The family of a longtime smoker was awarded $37 million in damages against two major cigarette companies in a Broward courtroom last week.
Rita Mahfuz, who died of lung cancer and COPD, smoked multiple packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years. She finally quit cigarettes after being diagnosed with cancer and having a lung removed seven years earlier. Mahfuz passed away in 1999 at the age of 53.
The jury awarded her family $12 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages against Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Company. Attorneys for Mahfuz's husband, Richard, argued Rita had died from complications from her addiction to cigarettes that began when she was in her teens.
"They were happy to profit from her while she was alive but argued their products were not responsible for her addiction or death," said attorney Jonathan Gdanski.
During the trial, Mahfuz's continued addiction was blamed on her being fooled by the advertising campaigns of cigarette companies that claimed smoking filtered brands were safer and healthier options.