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WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to let Philip Morris USA delay paying $10.5 million in damages to a former smoker in California while the tobacco company contests the amount, reported the Associated Press.
The company had been sued by Patricia Henley, who smoked for 35 years starting at age 15 and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997.
In September, the California Supreme Court refused to reduce the $10.5 million award, which Philip Morris claimed was excessive. The Richmond, Virginia-based unit of Altria Group Inc. of New York is appealing to the Supreme Court.
Wednesday's order by the high court, which prevents Henley from collecting any money until the matter is resolved by justices, indicated that all nine court members participated, including Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who was hospitalized last week with thyroid cancer.