How Hard Can A Jury Hit Big Tobacco

December 19, 2012

In November of 2009, a jury returned a $300 million verdict to Plaintiff Lucinda Naugle, in her lawsuit against Phillip Morris. The verdict included an unprecedented $244 million in punitive damages against the tobacco company. Ms. Naugle smoked Benson & Hedges cigarettes, a Phillip Morris brand, for over 25 years before she was able to quit. She now suffers from severe emphysema, is wheelchair bound, and is reliant on oxygen 24 hours a day.

The jury's massive verdict was thought to be one of the largest, if not the largest, punitive damages verdict in American history.  In December of 2012, a Florida state appellate court ruled that the verdict was excessive, finding the jury was moved by passion. The case will be re-tried on the issue of how much money to award Ms. Naugle. However, the jury's finding of liability against Phillip Morris, including findings that the company intentionally concealed and hid information about the perils of smoking, will continue to stand.

Despite the Court's decision to reduce the verdict in this instance, cases against Big Tobacco are often meritorious for lifelong smokers who became addicted many years ago. Juries have awarded substantial compensation to victims who started smoking before tobacco companies were forced to disclose the ugly truth about the harmful nature of cigarettes.  If you suffer from a tobacco related ailment and began smoking in the early 1960's, we encourage you not to delay in seeking legal evaluation of your potential case. For a free legal consultation and to learn more about filing deadlines for these types of claims, please see our previous article on Tobacco Litigation, or contact the law offices of Padilla Law Group, LLP at 858.481.5454.

This post is published by  The Law Offices of Padilla Law Group, LLP, specialists in Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Product Liability matters. Authored by Christine Padilla.