The U.S. Supreme Court has declined Philip Morris USA Inc.’s request to review an Oregon jury’s $25 million punitive damage award to the family of a woman who died of lung cancer. The tobacco giant had claimed that the verdict conflicted with a first jury’s decision that the company was liable. The high court wasn’t impressed with Philip Morris’ argument that Oregon’s partial retrial system had deprived the company of its right to due process after an Oregon appellate court threw out the first jury’s $150 million punitive damage verdict.
The initial verdict was based on two types of fraud. A new trial was ordered after the first verdict solely on the issue of the appropriate amount of punitive damages. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed that decision, and a second jury then awarded $25 million in punitive damages for fraud arriving from statements the company made about low-tar cigarettes.
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