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Punitives Barred in Smoking Suit

Posted Jul 31, 2007 5:47 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Res judicata has been the bane of many a law student’s existence. Now it’s causing problems for the widow of a smoker suing Philip Morris in New York.

The question: Does a state’s participation in the $208 billion global tobacco settlement bar smokers’ individual punitive damage claims?

A New York federal judge has answered yes and barred such damages in the widow’s suit, the New York Law Journal reports. The Florida Supreme Court disagrees and permits punitive claims despite the state’s participation in the settlement.

In his July 23 ruling, Judge Charles Brieant also refused to allow the widow to sue for defective design because safer alternatives had been rejected by the marketplace.

The smoker’s lawyer, Jerome Block of Levy Phillips & Konisberg, told the legal newspaper he will appeal after the case is resolved at the trial level.

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