Calif court lets stand $50 million tobacco verdict
The California Supreme Court on Thursday let stand a lower court’s decision that cut in half a $100 million punitive damages award to a sick smoker who had sued tobacco maker Philip Morris.
The Supreme Court voted 5-0 to not review the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal, which in April reduced the massive punitive award and upheld compensatory damages of more than $5 million to plaintiff Richard Boeken.
A representative at Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris USA, declined to comment specifically on the decision but said Philip Morris has filed an application to stay the execution of the judgment while it appeals the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Boeken’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
Boeken’s original $3 billion punitive damages award broke records in 2001 as the largest jury award ever made to an individual against a tobacco company. That was later reduced to $100 million and then halved by the appeals court.
Boeken, a former heroin addict who said he was unable to kick his two-pack-a-day Marlboro habit, was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in 1999 at age 56, and has since died.
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