Award in smoking death is reinstated
PORTLAND, OREGON -- An appeals court reinstated an $80 million jury award against tobacco giant Philip Morris on Wednesday, calling the company "reprehensible" for selling cigarettes it knew were harmful.
The state Court of Appeals ruling reversed a trial judge who had trimmed the award to $32 million, based on punitive damage limits set by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Philip Morris said it would appeal.
The family of Jesse Williams, a Portland school janitor who died of lung cancer at age 67, had sued Philip Morris, the world's largest tobacco company, claiming that Williams kept smoking because he did not believe a company would sell something that truly was harmful. Williams died in 1997 after smoking about three packs of Marlboros a day, a habit he began in the 1950s.
The three-judge appeals court panel ruled unanimously that the jury's punitive damage award to the Williams family was within federal standards.