Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | March 31, 2009

Kentucky environmental lawyer Sanders says U.S. Supreme Court snuffs out Philip Morris appeal on size of punitive damage award in Oregon case.

Lung Cancer in Left Lung of Cigarette Smoker.

Lung Cancer in Left Lung of Cigarette Smoker.

Altria Group Inc.’s Philip Morris unit lost a final chance today in the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the amount of a punitive damages award in an Oregon wrongful death case.  An Oregon state jury awarded a $79.5 million punitive damages ruling against the cigarette manufacturer in the case involving a smoker’s death that occurred in 1997.

 

 

 

The U.S. Supreme remanded the case back to the Oregon Supreme Court to look at the size of the punitive damage award, but the Oregon Supreme Court declined to do so. The state court did so because Philip Morris had failed to comply with state procedural rules on preserving error in a jury instruction.

 

In its third appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the same case, Philip Morris filed a writ to the Supreme Court, but America’s high court dismissed the appeal without issuing an opinion. Instead, the Supreme Court issued a one-sentence order in Philip Morris USA v. Williams saying, “The writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted.” No justices dissented from the dismissal.

 

The case is Philip Morris USA v. Williams, 07-1216. A final ruling in the case is expected by July 2009.

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