Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oregon finally gets its share of punitive damages in tobacco case

In Oregon awards for punitive damages are shared by the party who wins the judgment of the award and the state.  According to a state statute the plaintiff gets 40% and the state gets 60%.  I've always been surprised more states don't adopt this approach to punitives, but that is a different story.

In any case, the blog "Injured" is reporting today on a twelve year old battle over the payment of punitive damages in a case against Philip Morris from back in 1999.  The case resulted in an award of $79.5 million in punitive damages but it wasn't until 2009 that U.S. Supreme Court denied the tobacco company's appeal.  It ended up paying 40% of the original $79.5 million plus 9% interest to the plaintiff in the original case.  PM then fought against the state of Oregon but the Oregon Supreme Court ruled last week that the company must pay the remaining 60% of the punitive damages to the state, plus interest. In total, the company will end up paying around $99 million.

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