California Lung Cancer Patient Accepts $100M Damage Award in Tobacco Lawsuit
The California smoker who was awarded $3 billion in a verdict against Philip Morris has opted to accept a $100 million damage award set by the judge presiding over the lawsuit, the Los Angeles Times reports. Richard Boeken, a 57-year-old lung cancer patient, yesterday approved of the $100 million award four days before the offer would have expired. Had Boeken declined or not responded to the offer, a new trial on the punitive damages would have been held (Gorman, Los Angeles Times, 8/22). On Aug. 9, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charles McCoy ruled that a $3 billion punitive damage award against Philip Morris was "excessive, but said he will order a retrial only" if the plaintiff does not accept the "record-breaking" $100 million award. At the same time, McCoy upheld $5.54 million in compensatory damages for Boeken, who successfully argued in a case decided in June that the tobacco company "lied to smokers and the government" about the health risks of smoking (California Healthline, 8/10). Boeken's attorney, Michael Piuze, said the $100 million is "not enough to punish" Philip Morris for being deceitful about the health effects of smoking. "I have never come in contact with anything like the tobacco fraud that has been perpetrated for 50 years in this country," he said (Los Angeles Times, 8/22). Philip Morris "vowed to appeal the verdict regardless of whether" Boeken accepted the $100 million. But Piuze said that Boeken plans to cross-appeal and "seek reinstatement" of the $3 billion award (Reuters/Wall Street Journal, 8/22).