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Update: Supreme Court to review Oregon Philip Morris punitive damages decision



In Williams v. Philip Morris, an Oregon state jury awarded $21 thousand in economic damages, a capped $500,000 in non-economic damages, and $79.5 million in punitive damages. The Oregon Supreme Court, as we reported in February, upheld the 150-1 ratio. The Supreme Court has agreed to review the decision and clarify State Farm v. Campbell—but only four justices remain from that majority. Lyle Denniston's summary:

The Court said it would rule on two issues raised in Philip Morris USA v. Williams (05-1256). The first: if a court finds that a company's misconduct was outrageous, does that override the constitutional limit that holds punitive damages closely to the actual harm done -- the so-called "ratio" issue. The second is whether the Constitution forbids juries to provide damages to punish a company for the effects of its conduct on others, not directly before the court.

A third issue raised by the appeal, on the appeals court's deference to the factual claims made by the plaintiff, was not granted review.

 

 


Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.