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$13.8m damages to smoker’s daughter
25 Aug 2009 | Family wins latest round against Philip Morris
| 25 August 2009

Betty Bullock died of lung cancer in 2003, after 47 years as a smoker. Before her death she sued Philip Morris for fraud and product liability – with a jury initially recommending (in 2002) that she receive a staggering $28 billion in punitive damages (later reduced by a judge to $28 million). Philip Morris appealed, arguing that Mrs Bullock knew the harmful effects of smoking and could have given up at any time – and that $28 million was excessive. Since Mrs Bullock’s death her daughter, Jodie, has continued the fight. The 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned the 2002 decision in 2008, and ordered a new trial.

In the latest trial, Philip Morris has been ordered to pay $13.8m (£8.4m) to Jodie Bullock, an amount described as a 'compromise' between the jurors. The jury was split 9-3 – but some of those who rejected the decision felt that the amount awarded was still simply too low, and an insufficient deterrent to tobacco companies.

Philip Morris is considering whether to appeal further.

Sources: BBC News Online and Associated Press, 25 August 2009.