The US Supreme Court has reversed a $79.5 million punitive-damages award to an Oregon widow whose husband had smoked for 45 years, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
The 5-4 decision reversed a ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court against tobacco maker Philip Morris USA. The earlier verdict had favoured Mayloa Williams, whose husband, Jesse, died of lung cancer nearly a decade ago.
In Tuesday's US Supreme Court ruling, justices speaking for the majority said the earlier ruling could not stand because the Oregon jury hadn't been told that Philip Morris could only be sanctioned for harm done to the plaintiff, not to other smokers and their families, the AP reported.
The decision didn't address Philip Morris's contention that the award had been unconstitutionally excessive, the wire service said.
Punitive damages are awarded with the intent of punishing defendants and deterring others from practicing the same behaviour. – (HealthDayNews)
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