WTK Connect Details

U.S. Supreme Court to Revisit Punitive Damages Issue

2006 | Topics: Business Litigation, Class Actions, Product Liability, Warranty

The U.S. Supreme Court has added Phillip Morris USA v. Mayola Williams to its docket for the Fall, agreeing to review a $79.5 million verdict against the tobacco company for the death of an Oregon smoker. The high court will review the appellate court’s conclusion (1) that a defendant’s conduct was so highly reprehensible and analogous to a crime that it overrode the constitutional requirement that punitive damages be reasonably related to the plaintiff’s harm and (2) whether due process permits a jury to punish a defendant for the effects of its conduct on non-parties. 

The opinion will be the high court’s first punitive damages case involving products liability since State Farm v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003).