v. Philip Morris (California Court of Appeal, Second District, Case No.
B222596) the court affirmed a punitive damage award that is 16 times
compensatory damages. The jury ultimately awarded Bullock $850,000 in
compensatory damages and $13.8 million in punitive damages. As you
may be aware, pursuant to recent case law guideposts punitive damage
awards generally are allowed in the range of 3 to 4 times compensatory
damages and as an outside measure should not exceed 9 times compensatory
damages as punitive damages must bear reasonable relation to compensatory
included this case discussion because punitive damages are warranted in
some elder abuse cases, and some of the justifying factors in Bullock
also are present in select elder abuse cases.
smoked cigarettes for 45 years from 1956 until she was diagnosed with lung
cancer in 2001. In 2001, Bullock filed suit against Philip Morris. Bullock
sought to recover damages for personal injuries based on products liability,
fraud and other theories. Bullock died in 2003.
the holding in Bullock, in some cases there are exceptional factual
circumstances that warrant the allowance of larger punitive damages as a
multiple of compensatory damages: the evidence indicated that the defendant
knew that the consensus was that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer and other
serious diseases, and that smokers suffered lung cancer and other serious
diseases at rates far greater than nonsmokers-despite that knowledge, defendant
conducted a campaign to obscure and deny the truth. The court also held that
larger punitive damages were warranted because of the defendant's wealthy
financial condition, the profitability of its misconduct, defendant knew and
hid for a long period of time the dangers of its product, and the injuries
caused to plaintiff were physical or mental in nature, not economic.
According to the court, the evidence indicated that defendant's behavior was
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