Appellate court reverses smoker verdict

Court orders new trial

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida appellate court has reversed a $510,000 judgment against a cigarette manufacturer because a judge disallowed key defense evidence in a sick smoker case.

The 1st District Court of Appeal on Wednesday in Tallahassee ordered a new trial in the Gainesville case.

Peter Mack Sr. sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., alleging its cigarettes were to blame for his laryngeal cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. His estate pursed the case after he died.

The appellate panel ruled Circuit Judge Stanley Griffis III erred by prohibiting Reynolds from offering evidence Mack had a family history of cancer and was exposed at work to asbestos that could have caused his illness.

The case is one of thousands by sick smokers or their estates against tobacco companies proceeding in Florida courts.

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