California Court of Appeal Upholds Punitive Damage Award against Philip Morris
For the third time in less than three months, a court has upheld an individual plaintiff's verdict in a products liability case against Philip Morris.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, Division Three, upheld a $28 million punitive damages award in the case of Bullock v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. The opinion is at http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B164398.PDF
The Court of Appeal concluded that ‘the extreme reprehensibility of Philip Morris’s conduct justifies a ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages significantly greater than a single-digit.’
On February 2, 2006, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld a $79.5 million punitive damages award against Philip Morris in the Williams case. See http://tobacco.neu.edu/litigation/cases/Backgrounders/williams_or_sup_ct_backgrounder.htm
On March 20, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the Philip Morris appeal in the Boeken case, thereby leaving intact a punitive damages award of $50 million.
The pro-plaintiff developments in these three important cases stand in sharp contrast to the claims by pro-industry stock analysts and industry public relations officials that the litigation environment is ‘improving’ for the tobacco industry.
STATEMENT OF EDWARD L. SWEDA, JR., SENIOR ATTORNEY
TOBACCO PRODUCTS LIABILITY PROJECT
NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
April 21, 2006