Verdicts & Settlements
Judge Plans to Trim $300M Verdict for Ex-Smoker, Says Tobacco Lawyers’ Strategy Backfired
Posted Feb 9, 2010 7:57 AM CDT
By Molly McDonough
Calling a record $300 million jury verdict against tobacco giant Philip Morris excessive, a Florida judge has indicated he'll reduce the amount.
Broward County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld gave no indication, however, when he'd make the adjustment, the Daily Business Review reports.
The verdict, reached in November, was the largest ever for an individual against a tobacco company. Jurors awarded Cindy Naugle, who quit smoking in 1993, $56.5 million in compensatory damages and $244 million in punitive damages.
Streitfeld said the amount was likely guided by anger at tobacco lawyers who put on a "blame the smoker" defense.
"It didn't work," Streitfield is quoted saying. "It upset the jury."
The Daily Business Review notes that the Naugle case is one of 8,000 suits against cigarette manufacturers that were filed after Florida's high court decertified a statewide class action and invalidated a $145 billion punitive award.