Tobacco Companies Not Responsible for Flight Attendant Illness

Miami jury rejected a damage request by a former flight\r\nattendant who argued that tobacco companies were responsible for her\r\nillness.

A Miami jury rejected a damage request by a former flight attendant who argued that tobacco companies were responsible for her illness.

Maria Fontana, a former TWA employee, was the first flight attendant to sue the tobacco companies. Approximately 3,200 such claims are now in the works.

Fontana suffers from sarcoidosis, and claimed exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) while working as a flight attendant was responsible for her ill health.

"The plaintiff is suffering from a terrible disease, but it is a disease that is not associated with exposure to tobacco smoke," said William Ohlemeyer, associate general counsel and vice president for Philip Morris, the tobacco company represented in the suit.

"We fully understand the sympathy that everyone -- including the jury -- must feel for Ms. Fontana under these circumstances, but the jury''s verdict was the correct one based on the evidence presented and the applicable law,'' said Ohlemeyer.

Philip Morris and other cigarette makers paid $349 million in 1997 to settle a class-action lawsuit on behalf of flight attendants claiming injuries from secondhand smoke on U.S. airliners.

Smoking on U.S. domestic routes was banned in 1990.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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