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Tobacco Products Liability Project hails $244 million punitive damages award against Philip Morris as “entirely proportionate to the level of reprehensible misconduct by the company”

November 20th, 2009

A Fort Lauderdale, Florida jury on the afternoon of November 19, 2009 returned a nearly $300 million dollar ($55 million in compensatory damages and $244 million in punitive damages) verdict against tobacco giant Philip Morris in the trial of Naugle vs. Philip Morris. The three-week trial featured the testimony of the plaintiff, Luncinda (Cindy) Naugle, who started smoking in 1968 at the age of 20 and who quit smoking in 1993. Ms. Naugle now suffers from severe emphysema.   She is represented by the Kelley Uustal Law Firm in Fort Lauderdale. [Contact Attorney Bob Kelley at 954-522-6601.]

Edward L. Sweda, Jr., Senior Attorney for the Tobacco Products Liability Project (TPLP) at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, was delighted with the jury’s verdict. “Clearly, this jury recognized the outrageous and reprehensible misconduct by Philip Morris and appropriately expressed its outrage by awarding $244,000,000 in punitive damages. This jury went far beyond a slap on the wrists and, instead, hit Philip Morris hard in order to punish the company for its extraordinary wrongdoing and to deter Philip Morris and other tobacco companies from committing similar wrongdoing in the future,” Sweda said.

Mark Gottlieb, TPLP’s Director, noted that “trial lawyers should be encouraged by the success that plaintiffs in Florida have been able to achieve when juries have had the chance to review the evidence of cigarette makers’ astonishing misconduct.”

Thursday’s verdict was the tenth verdict this year in Engle progeny cases in Florida. 8 out of those 10 verdicts have been for the plaintiffs; the jury verdict in the Naugle case was the largest of the eight plaintiff verdicts. Thousands of other Engle progeny cases remain in the pipeline, awaiting trial in Florida.

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The Tobacco Products Liability Project (TPLP) is a project of the Public Health Advocacy Institute, which is based at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston.

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