Deadline approaching to sue tobacco companies

Friday is the deadline set by the Florida Supreme Court for Florida smokers to sue tobacco companies.

The high court said smokers could sue individually after throwing out a punitive damage award in 2006 stemming from a class-action suit against cigarette makers.

Joe McMorrow is one of 500 clients who hired Stuart attorney Willie Gary to sue big tobacco. Because of years of smoking, he needs a special device to talk. "I don't breathe through my noise or my throat. When you wake up and have no more voice that is a tough one to take."

Plaintiffs have to prove they or their loved ones were seriously injured by tobacco or a relative died from smoking before 1996.

Courthouses up and down the coast are expecting an influx of lawsuits Friday as the deadline to file looms, and many added staff to be prepared.