Mass. court tosses part of cigarette samples case

BOSTON (AP) — The family of a late Boston woman who got free cigarette samples as a child can keep $35 million in compensatory damages, but the state’s highest court on Tuesday threw out an $81 million punitive damages award and ordered a new trial on that part of the case.

The Supreme Judicial Court issued the mixed decision in a wrongful death suit brought against Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard Tobacco Co. by the son of Marie Evans, who died of cancer in 2002 at age 54. Her family said she became a regular smoker at about age 13 after repeatedly getting free Newport cigarette samples at a playground.

The justices found that jurors didn’t get proper instructions on a wrongful death theory based on negligent design and marketing. They also vacated the finding that Marie Evans’ death was caused by Lorillard’s negligence.

Lorillard spokesman Gregg Perry said the company is “gratified” by the ruling for a new trial on punitive damages but disagrees with the decision on compensatory damages and is “considering its options for further review.”

A message was left with an attorney for the family.

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