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SAN FRANCISCO-Lorillard Inc. and the manufacturer of filters for Kent cigarettes must pay $2 million to the estate of a smoker whose lung cancer was blamed on asbestos filters, a California appeals court has ruled.
The 1st District Court in San Francisco last week upheld the 1995 award of $1.3 million to Milton Horowitz and his wife for compensatory damages and loss of consortium. That amount was ordered to be paid equally by the tobacco company and the manufacturer of the filter, Hollingsworth & Vose Co. The jury also assessed punitive awards of $560,000 against Lorillard and $140,000 against Hollingsworth & Vose.
Mr. Horowitz, who died while the appeal was pending, began smoking Kent cigarettes in 1952 and quit smoking altogether 11 years later. Kent Micronite filters made between 1952 and 1956 contained blue crocidolite asbestos, later found to be a highly carcinogenic form of asbestos.
Mr. Horowitz developed mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung's lining, in 1994.
The appeals court noted last week that testimony indicated Mr. Horowitz began smoking because of advertising that suggested the cigarettes were safe, "good for one's health" and more successful than other brands at filtering tar and nicotine. Physician friends also persuaded Mr. Horowitz that "Kents were the cigarette(s) to smoke," court papers stated.
The appeals court determined in upholding the punitive award that the defendants were aware in 1954-a time when the connection between asbestos and cancer already was well known-that the asbestos fiber in the filter was emitted from the cigarettes.
Lorillard officials did not return calls seeking comment.