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Philip Morris USA Plans $8 Million Tobacco Appeal

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 19, 2009 1:09 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Big Tobacco, Engle Case, Cigarettes, Lung Cancer, Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, Philip Morris

Philip Morris USA plans to appeal $8 million tobacco verdict.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ Marlboro cigarettes/ author: Bachmont


Tobacco giant Philip Morris USA, was dealt an $8 million blow Wednesday when a Fort Lauderdale jury awarded the widow of a smoker $8 million in damages.  The company says it plans to appeal.

“Today’s verdict was the result of an unconstitutional and profoundly flawed trial procedure,” says Murray Garnick, a spokesman for the company to Bizjournals. “Fundamental fairness requires the plaintiff to establish basic liability before a jury can award damages.”

The company’s appeal will challenge whether prior findings should be used as a basis to try future cases. 

Jurors were allowed to rely on the previous court findings of the Engle class-action that established tobacco companies knowingly put out a dangerous product and worked to hide the dangers from the public. When the class was decertified in 2006, plaintiffs were told to file individual cases in Florida courts, but could rely on the Engle findings.   

8,000 cases were filed.  Besides Philip Morris, other cigarette makers to stand trial will be Reynolds American Inc., and Vector Group Ltd.

It took two days for the six jurors to deliver the favorable verdict to Elaine Hess.

In 1997, Elaine Hess’ husband, Stuart Hess, 55, died of lung cancer after decades as a chain smoker. Lawyers for Philip Morris argued that Hess could have quit smoking, but his widow convinced the jury he had tried but was hopelessly addicted and unable to quit. 

Lawyers at trial played the 1994 video testimony of the “Seven Dwarfs” – the top seven tobacco company executives who denied that cigarettes were addictive. 

This phase of the trial awarded Mrs. Hess $3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Philip Morris will try to reverse the punative and reduce the compensatory award.

The company is a unit of the Altria Group Inc., the largest U.S. cigarette maker. Bloomberg reports that Altria fell 4 cents to $15.53 on the NYSE.

Philip Morris is already appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a $79.5 million award in an Oregon case. Other large awards have been reduced or reversed on appeal.   #

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by David Rogers
Saturday, February 28, 2009 10:26 AM EST

You would think these tobacco companies would just admit their mistakes and settle and get on and pay compensation for the damages their products have caused customers, their families, and which have had severe repercussions on the healthcare system.

Probably the most malicious and avaricious group of companies on the planet. How these executives sleep at night, knowing the suffering their products have caused is beyond comprehension.

Now they've got whole new markets - India and China - to get their customers addicted and while the EKG machines flatline with long-term customers and the families wail and grieve, the cash machine at Big Tobacco just goes Ka-ching Ka-ching!

Comments for this article are closed.

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