Smoker Accepts $100 Million Award
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A cancer-stricken smoker who was awarded a $3 billion judgment against tobacco giant Philip Morris has agreed to accept a reduced $100 million award, his lawyer said Tuesday night.
Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Charles W. McCoy Jr. upheld the jury's verdict, but ruled the award to smoker Richard Boeken was excessive. He gave Boeken until Friday to accept the lesser amount or face a new trial on just the punitive damages.
Boeken's attorney, Michael Piuze, said his client signed the acceptance papers on Aug. 15, but they weren't filed with the court until Monday.
Piuze said he was sure the tobacco company would appeal the $100 million award, saying ``they would appeal a $50,000 award.'' When that happens, he said, Boeken will cross-appeal.
Calls placed late Monday night to officials from Philip Morris were not immediately returned. Officials had said earlier the company planned to appeal the entire verdict.
McCoy denounced Philip Morris' actions as ``reprehensible in every sense of the word, both legal and moral,'' but said the punitive damages jurors ordered the tobacco giant to pay were far above the usual ratio.
In fact, it was the largest award in an individual lawsuit against a tobacco company.
The ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages was 540-1. The $100 million figure - four times what Philip Morris lawyers had recommended - would reduce the ratio to 18-1.
Boeken, 57, of Topanga, has lung cancer that has spread to his brain. The lifelong smoker claimed in his lawsuit that he was the victim of a tobacco industry campaign that portrayed smoking as ``cool'' but concealed its dangers.
A jury found the company guilty of negligence, misrepresentation, fraud and selling a defective product.