February 18, 2009

Tobacco Plaintiffs Seek $100 Million in Punitive Damages

The plaintiffs in Hess v. Philip Morris, which we blogged about last week, have asked the jury to award $30 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages.

As readers of this blog know, punitive damages awards of that size rarely survive appeal. But it's possible that the plaintiffs are asking for such a large number because they know, as the Cal Biz Lit blog has pointed out, that statistical studies show that a large request for punitive damages is the most significant predictor of a large punitive damages award. So the plaintiffs may not get $100 million, but they'll get more than they would have gotten if they had asked for something less.