Smoker awarded damages in Australian case


A jury awarded 700,000 Australian dollars in damages to a dying grandmother in a case against British American Tobacco Plc (BAT). The woman is the first Australian smoker to win a case against a global cigarette giant.

Mrs Rolah McCabe (51) was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1999 and is not expected to live out the year, but her landmark case could open the way for thousands of claims against tobacco companies from Australian smokers.

The 700,000 Australian dollar award included damages for loss of income, care and maintenance costs, and pain and suffering.

Mrs McCabe's lawyers had sought 616,000 Australian dollars for loss of income, medical expenses, care and maintenance, and loss of life expectation, plus a very large sum for pain and suffering.

Mrs McCabe dropped a claim for punitive damages, so the award was tiny compared to the latest in a series of huge US jury awards. Philip Morris Cos Inc in the United States was ordered to dive $150 million in March to the estate of a woman who died of lung cancer after smoking low-tar cigarettes.

BAT could file for a stay on the damages judgment which, if granted, would allow it to hold back payment while the case is appealed.