Philip Morris said after the Supreme Court’s order that it would ask for a new trial of all the issues, not just the punitive damages.
The case stemmed from an Oregon Court of Appeals ruling last year that reinstated a jury’s award of $79.5 million in punitive damages to the family of Jesse Williams, who died of lung cancer in 1997 after smoking Marlboro cigarettes for 42 years.
The jury in 1999 awarded his family $800,000 in compensatory damages and $79.5 million in punitive damages. The trial judge then cut the punitive damages award to $32 million, but the appeals court reinstated the jury’s award.
Philip Morris appealed to the Supreme Court and said it had a constitutional right to have the jury instructed that any punitive damages award must be reasonably related to the plaintiff’s harm.
The company’s lawyers said the Oregon appeals court ruling conflicted with the Supreme Court’s decision in April and that Oregon’s standard for reviewing punitive damages was unconstitutional.