July 23, 2008

New York Appellate Court Says Smokers Cannot Recover Punitive Damages

New York's intermediate appellate court (New York Supreme Court, First Department Appellate Division) issued an opinion yesterday holding that smokers are barred from recovering punitive damages in New York. (Fabiano v. Philip Morris Inc., 2008 NY Slip Op 06353.)

In a unanimous opinion, the court reasoned that "punitive damages claims are quintessentially and exclusively public in their ultimate orientation and purpose," and the public interest in punitive damages was "previously and appropriately represented by the State Attorney General" in a 1998 settlement brought on behalf of all of the people of the New York.