December 2, 2008
Cooper City locksmith Stuart Hess puffed up to 40 cigarettes a day for about 40 years before he died of lung cancer at age 55 in 1997. Lawyers for his widow say Hess tried to quit. He tried Nicorette gum. He tried hypnosis. Tried going cold turkey. But he couldn’t do it.
Lawyers for Philip Morris, maker of the Benson & Hedges cigarettes that Hess preferred, say the locksmith was not addicted and could have stopped smoking at any time.
Whether or not Hess was addicted to cigarettes will be the key question as the lawsuit filed by Hess’ widow Elaine against Philip Morris was to begin Monday however flooding in Broward’s main courthouse lead to a postponement.
The lawsuit by Elaine Hess, a nonsmoker, is the first to be heard of 8,000 filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court two years ago threw out a $145 billion award in a massive class-action lawsuit against tobacco firms over smoking-related illnesses. Individual smokers had until January to sue cigarette makers.
Read Article: Miami Herald
A Texas judge has overturned his previous $16.2 million judgment against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, which was sued by the parents of a pledge who died allegedly after a hazing event at the University of Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports. The judge had issued the original ruling in October after the national organization and the UT chapter did not respond to the lawsuit.
The judge has accepted the fraternity’s explanation that the failure to respond was an accident, and the lawsuit will now proceed as if the $16.2 million judgment had never been handed down.
Freshman Tyler Cross died in November 2006 after falling from the fifth floor of his off-campus apartment building.
Read Article: US News and World Report
For the second time in two years, Georgia will pay a million-dollar settlement over the death of a patient at one of its beleaguered state psychiatric hospitals. An apology, the patient’s sister said, might have resolved the case for much less money.The family of Michael Ernest Webb, a 59-year-old Vietnam veteran from Gwinnett County, will receive $1 million for agreeing not to pursue a lawsuit against the state. Webb died Dec. 16, 2006, after nearly three weeks without a bowel movement at Georgia Regional Hospital/Atlanta.
The payment will be the largest since a $1.25 million settlement in 2007 with the family of Sarah Elizabeth Crider. Foreshadowing Webb’s death, the 14-year-old from Cobb County died Feb. 13, 2006, after Georgia Regional’s medical staff overlooked a severe bowel obstruction.The state admitted no fault in either case. Georgia law caps the state’s liability at $2 million.
One of Webb’s two sisters, Janie Webb-Miller, said the family filed a claim only after failing to get state officials to accept responsibility for the death.
Read Article: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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