The tobacco giant Phillip Morris was ordered to pay 8 million dollars this week to Florida widow Elaine Hess, whose late husband Stuart Hess died of lung cancer at age 55 in 1997. A jury in Fort Lauderdale awarded compensatory damages of 3 dollars and a whopping 5 million dollars in punitive damages, obviously convinced that Philip Morris knew that the cigarettes they marketed and sold are a dangerous product but that the company was more concerned about profit than safety.
Philip Morris USA announced that they would appeal the verdict, certainly to be expected after a major verdict against the tobacco giant in the first of what will likely be thousands of cases in Florida. Back in 2006, the Florida Supreme Court threw out a 145 billion dollar jury award in a dangerous product class action suit filed in the early 1990’s on behalf of 8,000 sick smokers. Undoubtedly, the Hess verdict will encourage the families of those 8,000 smokers to pursue their cases as well.
Compensatory damages are awarded for injuries including pain and suffering, lost earnings, loss of enjoyment of life, and medical bills. These type of awards are more likely to be upheld by an appellate court. Conversely, punitive damages, which as the name suggests, are imposed to “punish” the defendant for intentional or malicious conduct, are frequently either reversed or substantially reduced by higher courts on appeal.
Contact The White Plains, New York defective product lawyers at The Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 if you or a loved one suffer serious injuries from exposure to a dangerous or defective product.