The Supreme Court on Tuesday tossed out a $79.5 million punitive damage award won by a smoker’s widow against Philip Morris, ruling that Oregon jurors improperly considered harm to other smokers in punishing the tobacco giant.
By a 5-4 vote, the Court said that a state violates the Constitution’s due-process clause when it uses a punitive damage award to punish a defendant for injuries suffered by “strangers to the litigation,” in the words of Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion.
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