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    Oregon Lawsuit Targets Big Tobacco

    Suit mirrors class action rejected by a West Virginia jury last week.

    PORTLAND, Ore. -- A woman who quit smoking after 40 years filed a class-action lawsuit seeking to force tobacco companies to pay for medical tests that could detect smoking-related diseases. An attorney for Philip Morris said the lawsuit is nearly identical to a class-action suit rejected last week by a West Virginia jury, according to the The Oregonian. Patsy Lowe, 61, argues cigarette makers must help prevent any disease their product causes Oregonians - in addition to the $246 billion settlement Oregon and other states reached with the tobacco industry in 1998. In the West Virginia case, the first of its kind to reach trial, attorneys were representing some 250,000 healthy smokers who wanted an industry-funded medical screening program. The Oregon lawsuit asks the tobacco companies to pay for spiral CT scans -- a new three-dimensional form of computerized X-rays --- that can detect lung cancer tumors at their earliest and most treatable stage. Bill Gaylord, an attorney for Lowe, said the scans typically cost about $325, which likely will discourage many people from asking for them, the report said. "It's an unorthodox legal claim, to say the least," said Michael York, an attorney for Philip Morris, one of several tobacco companies named in the lawsuit.

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