Supreme Court to hear Philip Morris punitive damages appeal

Supreme Court to hear Philip Morris punitive damages appeal

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday granted certiorari in Philip Morris USA v. Williams [cert. petition and reply brief, PDF], 05-1256, a case involving the damages awarded in a wrongful death action against Philip Morris [corporate website] brought by the relatives of a longtime smoker. Earlier this year, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld a jury award of $80 million [opinion text; JURIST report] in punitive damages because the marketing tactics of Philip Morris were "reprehensible." The US Supreme Court in 2003 ordered the same Oregon court to reconsider the 1999 jury award, stating that punitive damages should generally parallel actual damages.

Philip Morris has argued that the state high court's decision conflicts with the 2002 US Supreme Court ruling in State Farm v. Campbell [opinion], which set guidelines for calculating punitive damages. Read the Court's full Order List [PDF text]. AP has more. SCOTUSblog has additional coverage.