My Two Cents: Jury's reasoning goes up in smoke

There must be something about serving on a jury that causes said jurors to make boneheaded decisions.

I am, of course, referring to last week’s decision by a Superior Court jury in Los Angeles to award a former smoker $28 billion – yes, that’s right, BILLION – against Philip Morris Inc.

(Maybe it’s a California thing. Remember the Rodney King police beating and the O.J. Simpson verdicts?)

In what is yet another blow to personal responsibility in this country, Betty Bullock, who started smoking at 17 and was diagnosed last year with lung cancer that has since spread to her liver, sued Philip Morris for fraud and negligence.

What makes this verdict even more exasperating – other than the jaw-dropping amount of money awarded by the jury – is that testimony during the trial indicated Bullock was aware of the health risks associated with smoking and was repeatedly warned of such risks by her doctor over a period of four decades!

Not only that, but her daughter also urged her to quit.

According to trial information, Bullock’s response to all this was: “I am an adult, this is my business.”

Apparently her new business is being a hypocrite and trying to put Philip Morris out of business.

Bullock and people like her should stop pretending they didn’t know smoking was bad for them and that tobacco companies somehow deceived them.

While the tobacco companies aren’t completely blameless it terms of downplaying the dangers of their product, let’s face it: Common sense should tell you that inhaling smoke into your lungs is bad for you.

That’s like filing a lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment because you were devastated to find out that professional wrestling isn’t a legitimate sport.

Analysts are predicting the verdict will almost certainly be reduced on appeal, but you have to wonder what on earth would compel a jury toss this kind of money at someone who smoked for so long in spite of the fact she clearly knew it was detrimental to her health.

No doubt this verdict suggests a growing hostility toward tobacco companies.

Sadly, that hostility seems to be displacing the concept of people being responsible for their own actions.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who doesn’t smoke and likes to watch professional wrestling – gets in his two cents worth in spite of the old saying you only get a penny for your thoughts.