Published: Jul 19, 2011 8:14 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 19, 2011 7:15 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Supreme Court has upheld a $28.3 million verdict won by the family of a deceased smoker against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The justices Tuesday declined to take an appeal of the first of thousands of smoker lawsuits pending in Florida.

The 1st District Court of Appeal previously affirmed the verdict a Pensacola jury awarded to the family of Benny Martin, who died of lung cancer in 1995.

Reynolds had claimed the damages were excessive.

About 8,000 similar lawsuits are being tried individually after the Supreme Court in 2006 threw out a $145 billion class-action award against tobacco companies.

The high court held that cigarette makers knowingly sold dangerous and defective products but said damages must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

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