Philip Morris USA says it would fight an Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a jury’s 1999 punitive damage award of $79.5 million in the case of a dead smoker, CBS Market Watch reported June 9.
The tobacco giant said the award was “grossly excessive and clearly inconsistent” with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits such awards. The award is 152 times the compensatory damages awarded in the case.
Mark Gottlieb, an attorney for the Tobacco Products Liability Project, said the ruling “will help to distinguish the type of conduct and harm that tobacco companies engage in from the withholding of insurance coverage considered in the U.S. Supreme Court case.”
Philip Morris said it would appeal the ruling to the Oregon Supreme Court. “The company will ask the Oregon Supreme Court to overturn the verdict and send the case back for retrial,” said William Ohlemeyer, associate general counsel for Philip Morris.