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Jury Deliberates Tobacco Suit

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A string of court victories is on the line in Oregon as a smoking suit goes to the jury.

Jurors began deliberations this week in a $300-million wrongful death case accusing N.Y.-based Philip Morris Cos. of misleading an Oregon woman who died of lung cancer after smoking low-tar cigarettes.

Michelle Schwarz, a smoker of low-tar Merit cigarettes who died in 1999 at age 53, suffered "injury and death as a direct result of her reliance on the defendant's misrepresentation," Lawrence Wobbrock, the attorney representing her family, told jurors during closing arguments last week.

Lawyers for Philip Morris maintained that Schwarz was well aware of the risks of smoking but chose to continue anyway. Schwarz's husband, Richard, and other family members claim the mother of two believed the low-tar brand was a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes.
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