Tobacco.org and LAW360 brings news that big tobacco has once again lost on appeal in another large verdict in a post-Engle case. The case is captioned as Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Lucinda Naugle, and the opinion is here. In the case, the trial judge had reduced the verdict to $36.8 million after the jury originally had awarded $ 56.6 million in compensatory damages and $ 244 million in punitive damages.
Three holdings from the appellate court are key, and indicate why future losses are probable:
“[It] was for the jury to determined (1) whether [plaintiff Lucinda] Naugle would have continued to smoke [Philip Morris’s] cigarettes if not for [Philip Morris’s] nondisclosures, and (2) whether Naugle justifiably relied on the false controversy created by the tobacco industry after May 5, 1982.”
“The jury found for Naugle on these issues, and as the jury’s findings are supported by competent substantial record evidence, we do not disturb these findings on appeal.”
“In this case, the verdict compensates Naugle for a period of approximately 40 years (approximately 17 years for past pain and suffering and 22 years for future pain and suffering). “Therefore, the size of this verdict does not shock the conscience of this court. A verdict is not excessive just because it is large.”