In response to The West Virginia Record's July 10, 2006 article "WV Native now Florida's Chief Justice." R. Fred Lewis from Beckley, W.Va., was sworn in June 30 as Chief Justice of Florida's Supreme Court and he invited others to share their "vision of justice."
It's a sad commentary on his court that a week later the Florida Supreme Court threw out a $145 billion punitive damage award against the Cigarette Companies. His "vision of justice" seems to be no justice at all for tobacco company victims.
Perhaps you should send R. Fred Lewis some news from home, that Gov. Joe Manchin III declared this to be "Secondhand Smoke Awareness Week" in West Virginia. Or he could read the June 27 report by U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, which said, "The debate is over. The science is clear. Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance but a serious health hazard."
Smoking is the nation's single greatest cause of disease and death. The R. Fred Lewis Court even agreed that Cigarette Companies had misled smokers about the dangers and addiction of cigarettes, but rejected punitive damages.
I understand the Florida Courts are rough on criminals. However, American cigarette companies kill more Americans each year than all the incarcerated criminals combined. So why would Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis and the Florida Supreme Court think the tobacco cartel deserves the Court's protection?