Supreme Court Refuses Philip Morris Appeal

$79.5M case was seen as way to clamp down on punitive damages
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Mar 31, 2009 10:19 AM CDT
In this Oct. 31, 2006 file photo, Mayola Williams, in wheelchair, widow of Jesse Williams, who died of lung cancer, leaves the Supreme Court in Washington.   (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)
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(Newser) – Big business once hoped that the Supreme Court would use a tobacco lawsuit bouncing around the court system since 1999 to clamp down on the awarding of punitive damages. Instead, the AP reports, the Supreme Court gave a one-sentence order refusing to hear an appeal of a $79.5 million (with interest, more like $145 million) fraud award won from tobacco giant Philip Morris.

An Oregon woman filed the suit after her husband, who had smoked since the 1950s, died of lung cancer. She won $800,000 in actual damages, with much greater punitive damages, most of which are earmarked for an Oregon crime victims fund.