updated 12/19/2003 1:21:08 PM ET 2003-12-19T18:21:08

A jury awarded $350,000 to a woman who blamed a tobacco company after her husband — a smoker for more than four decades — died of lung cancer.

It was the first time a jury in New York state awarded damages against a tobacco company, lawyers said.

Gladys Frankson, whose husband, Harry, began smoking in 1954 at age 13, won the damages in state Supreme Court on Thursday. The jury also determined that punitive damages will be assessed against the defendant, the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., which makes Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Harry Frankson died in 1999 after years of trying — and failing — to quit smoking, his family's lawyer Michael London said. He had been diagnosed the year before with lung cancer stemming from his use of the unfiltered cigarettes, London said.

After his death, his wife sued, charging that the original manufacturer of Lucky Strikes, the American Tobacco Co., failed to warn its customers about the dangers of smoking. American Tobacco merged with Brown & Williamson in 1995.

"What the jury found was that the company was denying for years that the cigarettes are addictive and that they cause lung cancer," London said.

An attorney for Brown & Williamson, Gareth Cooper, said Frankson "knew and understood the risks of smoking." He added that "we have strong arguments for appeal and are confident that this decision will be reversed."

The family originally asked for $400 million in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages. A hearing to determine punitive damages will be held Jan. 7.

Juries in Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, California, Oregon and Kansas have made similar awards.

Brown & Williamson, headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is the nation's third-largest cigarette manufacturer, according to its Web site.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
13.79%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
17.78%
Rewards Cards 17.18%
17.17%
Source: Bankrate.com