The California Supreme Court has lifted legal deadlines for smokers who later develop diseases like lung cancer.
Lawyers who filed the lawsuit say Thursday's unanimous ruling in San Francisco will likely allow new smoker suits to be filed against the tobacco industry and keep alive lawsuits that may have been thrown out because of expired legal deadlines.
The case before the court involved former smoker Nikki Pooshs, who was diagnosed in 1989 with smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 1989 and a couple of years later with periodontal disease.
But Pooshs didn't sue the tobacco industry until she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003.
Cigarette makers argued the suit should be dismissed because California law gives people two years to file suit after discovery of an injury.