Tobacco lawyers ask judge to quit sick-smokers case
Tobacco lawyers, reeling from a sweeping sick-smokers liability verdict, want the trial judge to quit, saying he is an ailing ex-smoker too biased to oversee courtroom fights to set cash damages as high as $500 billion.
The request came as the judge issued a plan fixing as early as next month the high-stakes, punitive-penalty phase of the Florida class-action suit. The new plan opens cigarette makers to potentially huge cash assessments years earlier than had been expected.
Under the plan ordered by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Robert Kaye, the same jury which voted against cigarette makers will now decide whether to assess big punitive damages.
Punitive damages are often a multiple of actual, or compensatory, losses and usually account for the eyebrow-raising figures awarded by U.S. juries to defendants in lawsuits claiming misdeeds by big corporations.