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Tobacco Industry Loses Appeal Over Airline Smoke

MIAMI -- A state appeals court upheld a $500,000 award to a flight attendant who blamed secondhand smoke on airplanes for her bronchitis and sinus disease in a decision that could clear the way for damage trials on up to 3,000 similar claims, reported the Associated Press.

The decision for former TWA attendant Lynn French was a test case interpreting a $349 million agreement reached in 1997 between the tobacco industry and nonsmoking attendants to settle claims blaming their illnesses on the time when smoking was permitted on jetliners.

Attendants put their claims on hold while waiting for the ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

"Based on this, I think there are a lot more they're going to be paying," said Marvin Weinstein, French's trial attorney.

Tobacco attorneys argued that each nonsmoking attendant must prove that cigarette smoke made each of them ill. Attendants claimed that would have made their settlement meaningless. The appeals court agreed with the attendants and backed the award set by the trial judge following a $5.5 million jury award.
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