February 14, 2011

Smoker asks for $10 billion in punitive damages; jury awards $260,000

Bloomberg reports that a Florida jury has awarded $260,000 in punitive damages to a smoker in a lawsuit against RJ Reynolds, rejecting the plaintiff's request for $10 billion. The Bloomberg story quotes the disappointed plaintiffs' lawyer: "It could have been and should have been more . . .  [b]ut this is my first tobacco trial."

The plaintiff's lawyer may have thought that, just by asking for $10 billion, he would get at least a few million bucks out of the jury.  After all, as our friends at Cal Biz Lit have noted, research shows that the most significant predictor for a large punitive damages award is a large request.  That principle apparently did not work in the plaintiff's favor here, although we'll never know how much the jury would have awarded if the plaintiff had asked for something within the realm of reason. 

Related posts:

Plaintiffs break losing streak in Florida smoker lawsuits, win $72 million punitive damages award
Philip Morris wins sixth straight trial in Florida smoker litigation

Florida jury awards relatively modest punitive damages in smoker lawsuit

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Jury rules for plaintiff in first phase of retrial after reversal of $145 billion punitive damages award

After reversal of $145 billion class action punitive damages award, Florida smokers seek punitive damages in individual suits