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US top court lets stand US$64 mil. verdict in favor of Florida smokers

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to take up tobacco industry appeals over more than US$64 million in damages awarded to former smokers for health problems resulting from their addiction.

Without giving any explanation, the top court rejected 10 new petitions filed March 28, including six from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and one from Philip Morris USA, Inc.

The tobacco companies were asking the nine justices to overturn decisions from Florida courts awarding large damages claims to former smokers or their surviving relatives.

Individual plaintiffs in the 10 cases had been awarded amounts ranging between several thousand dollars to the highest award of US$27.5 million.

In 2006, Florida's top court had overturned a class action lawsuit awarding damages to former smokers and their relatives, and ordered plaintiffs to file cases individually.

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