Jurors award $1.4 million to terminally ill man who smoked asbestos-laden cigarettes in the 1950s

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A California jury has awarded nearly $1.4 million to a terminally ill man who smoked filter tipped cigarettes six decades ago that contained asbestos.

Attorneys for Don Lenney and his wife, Monica, called the verdict a rare victory for plaintiffs who have sued over Kent cigarettes use of asbestos in its Micronite filters for four years ending in 1956.

Cigarette manufacturer Lorilland Tobacco Co. has said it has successfully defended itself against 15 out of 20 similar trials nationwide, contending the filters released only tiny amounts of asbestos and that it posed no danger.

Kent had promoted the Micronite filters as "the greatest health protection in cigarette history" touting their ability to remove more harmful material.

The company removed asbestos from the filters in 1957.

Lenney, 73, a former insurance agent, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to asbestos, in November 2009 and had a lung removed in early 2010, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

"He tries not to dwell on it too much and just wants to live as long as he can, and be there for his wife and children and grandchildren," attorney Laurel Simes told the paper.

Lenney started smoking other brands in 1953 at age 16 and soon switched to Kent. He stopped smoking in 1965, shortly after the U.S. surgeon general warned of the dangers of cigarettes.

The jury awarded $1.36 million after a seven week trial. However, the panel rejected a claim that the company was negligent and violated Lenny's right to buy and use a safe product.


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