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    Big Tobacco Found Guilty

    New York jury rules that cigarette makers must pay up to $17.8 million in damages.

    Several tobacco companies were found guilty of deceptive business practices and ordered to pay up to $17.8 million in damages yesterday in a case brought by Blue Cross-Blue Shield, which sought reimbursement for funds it allegedly spent on smoking-related costs. Blue Cross sued in a Brooklyn, N.Y. court for direct claims on behalf of themselves and their subscribers.

    All of the defendants except for British American Tobacco Plc were found guilty of deceptive business practices, Reuters reported. The companies were ordered to pay Blue Cross either $17.8 million in direct liability or $11.8 million in non-direct liability, which would go to Blue Cross?s subsidiary companies.

    Other defendants were Philip Morris Cos. Inc.; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc.; British American Tobacco's Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. unit; Lorillard Tobacco Co., a unit of Loews Corp.; and Liggett Group, a unit of Vector Group Ltd.

    New York-based Philip Morris said its direct damages liability would be $6.75 million and its non-direct liability totals about $4.5 million.

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