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LOS ANGELES -- Two more lawsuits against tobacco companies have been filed in Los Angeles on the heels of last week's record $28 billion damages award to a 64-year-old lung cancer sufferer who blamed Philip Morris for failing to warn her against the risks of smoking, Reuters reported.
News of the two new suits -- one a wrongful death complaint -- came as brokerage Merrill Lynch on Tuesday cut its rating on two cigarette makers to "neutral" from "buy" because of litigation trends in California.
The suits were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday -- the day that a jury ordered Philip Morris Cos. Inc. to pay $28 billion to smoker Betty Bullock. The jury had found the tobacco giant liable for fraud, negligence and product liability, the report said.
The wrongful death suit was brought by Cynthia Green and her four children on behalf of her late husband Mack Green who died of lung cancer in May 2000. The suit names, among others, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., British American Tobacco Plc's Brown & Williamson, and Vector Group Ltd.'s Liggett Group Inc., alleging that they "knowingly and willingly" took part in making tobacco products they "knew to be dangerous and hazardous," according to Reuters.
The suits says that Mack Green began smoking at the age of 9, preferring Benson and Hedges, and that he tried quitting but was unable to do so because of his addiction to nicotine.
The second Los Angeles suit was filed by former Los Angeles factory worker Anna Bonner who began smoking at age 16. Bonner, who is now 61, said she smoked about two packets a day, mostly Marlboro, and now has lung and brain cancer. Bonner is representing herself.
Philip Morris faces two other trials before the end of the year in California, where juries in the health-conscious state have come down hard against tobacco companies.
Merrill Lynch tobacco analyst Martin Feldman said in announcing his ratings downgrade yesterday "there are no positive data points suggesting that any of the next few cases in California may be won by the industry."