Friday September 27, 2002

Jury orders Philip Morris to pay smoker $850,000 

LOS ANGELES — A jury found Philip Morris Inc., the world’s largest tobacco company, liable in a fraud, negligence and product liability lawsuit Thursday and awarded a woman dying of cancer $850,000 in compensatory damages. 

Jurors awarded Betty Bullock, 64, of Newport Beach, $750,000 in economic damages and $100,000 for pain and suffering. 

A second phase of the trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 1 to determine any punitive damages. 

William S. Ohlemeyer, Philip Morris’ vice president and associate general counsel, said the company had no comment on the verdict pending the completion of the trial’s second phase. 

In a shift from its strategy in earlier civil cases, Philip Morris did not try to defend its past actions. Instead, the company turned the spotlight on Bullock and her decision to smoke. 

“If she had stopped smoking .... even in the 1980s, she would not have lung cancer today,” Peter Bleakley, the attorney representing Philip Morris, told jurors at the start of the trial in August. 

Safeway’s third-quarter profit falls 9 percent  

PLEASANTON — Safeway Inc. reported a 9 percent drop in its fiscal third-quarter profit, reflecting lackluster sales growth and its continuing struggle with soft economic conditions. 

The Pleasanton-based grocery store chain said Thursday that net income came to $281.3 million, or 60 cents a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 7, compared with $309.2 million, or 60 cents a share, a year earlier. 

During a conference call in June, Safeway Chairman and Chief Executive Steven A. Burd told analysts the company expected third-quarter earnings of 60 cents to 62 cents a share. At that time, analysts had expected earnings of 75 cents a share. 

Redback shares tumble  

on third-quarter loss 

SAN JOSE — Shares of Redback Networks Inc. dropped nearly 43 percent Thursday after the maker of broadband and optical-networking equipment warned its third-quarter loss will be much wider than expected because of weak sales. 

Redback said it now expects a third-quarter loss, excluding items, of 23 cents to 25 cents a share on revenue of $15 million to $20 million. 

The estimate excludes inventory charges, restructuring expenses and other items considered part of ongoing operations under generally accepted accounting principles.