Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Supreme Court throws out $80 million jury award

This was interesting, and while I haven't had a chance to read the case in full yet, thought it as worth sharing. Today's Washington Post highlights some of the information:

The Supreme Court today threw out a nearly $80 million jury award against the Philip Morris tobacco company, a victory for it and other big businesses seeking limits on what juries may award to punish companies.

The court ruled 5-4 that the jury had not been properly instructed to consider how to award punitive damages in an Oregon case in which a smoker's widow had sued Philip Morris USA, now part of the Altria Group.

I'm expecting further writings/discussion on how this happened. Especially given this additional quote:

Dissenting justices said the court's ruling didn't make sense.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority "relies on a distinction between taking third-party harm into account in order to assess the reprehensibility of the defendant's conduct -- which is permitted -- from doing so in order to punish the defendant 'directly' -- which is forbidden.

"This nuance eludes me."


Head Spinner Scott said...

I haven't followed it much, but I do think that tobacco companies need to be held accountable for things they have done to keep people hooked on cigarettes. I am not sure one person deserves $80 million though

Subcomandante Bob said...

Bob is hoping to join in on a class-action lawsuit against Stolichnaya.

Head Spinner Scott said...

I am also angry at Stoli. I lost many nights to vodka and jazz

Hooda Thunkit said...

When you concentrate on the fact that big tobacco and big money carry big influence, some might say undue influence, then the (typically wrong) Supreme Court's decisions make perfect sense.

It's the best justice that money can buy. . .