U.S. top court rejects Philip Morris appeal of judgment in smoker's death

Packs of Marlboro cigarettes are displayed for sale at a convenience store in Somerville, Massachusetts July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (Reuters)

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Philip Morris USA's challenge to a $25 million Oregon jury verdict in favor of a man whose wife died of a lung cancer-related brain tumor after smoking the company's low-tar cigarettes.

By rejecting the cigarette maker's appeal, the high court left in place a July 2015 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Paul Schwarz, the husband of Michelle Schwarz, a long-term smoker who died in 1999. Philip Morris is owned by Altria Group Inc.

Michelle Schwarz began smoking in 1964 at age 18 and tried but failed to quit numerous times before switching in 1976 to the company's Merit brand that was advertised as "full flavor" but "low-tar" cigarettes, according to court papers.

She died in 1999 at age 53 from a brain tumor that was the result of metastatic lung cancer, according to court papers. The suit accused the company of negligence and fraud.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)