Philip Morris Punitive Damages Decision — Why It Was Good For Plaintiffs
Cross-posted from NY Personal Injury Law Blog
Much has now been written about the Supreme Court tossing out a $79.5M punitive damage award against Philip Morris in a smoking case where the compensatory damages were $821,000. Philip Morris v. Williams has been greeted by most as a victory for big business in limiting such awards (here, here and here). But it was not.
The key to understanding this is that Justice Stevens dissented. Stevens had formed part of the 6-3 majority in State Farm v. Campbell -- the last significant ruling on the law of punitive damages -- and State Farm had discussed much smaller ratios of compensatory to punitive damages, of 4-1 and 9-1. (keep reading)