Thursday, March 23, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Oregon High Court Backs $79.5M Smoker Award

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - The Oregon Supreme Court has reaffirmed a $79.5 million punitive damage judgment against Philip Morris USA after the U.S. Supreme Court twice rejected the amount as potentially excessive.

The court stuck by its ruling that the tobacco giant and the industry disseminated a "program of misinformation" about the dangers of smoking by fostering "the sham impression that they themselves were vigorously investigating the health effects of smoking when, in actuality, their research institution avoided doing research on that question."

A jury granted the award to the family of Jesse Williams, a former Portland janitor who began smoking in the 1950s and died in 1997 from lung cancer. Williams allegedly "learned from watching television that smoking did not cause lung cancer."

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.