tobacco cases

Punitive Damages: Ration Relative to Compensatory

By on October 1, 2011 - Comments off

Bullock v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., (Second District, August 17, 2011) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2011 WL 3599605, 11 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 10,492

A woman who contracted lung cancer after smoking for over 40 years filed suit against Philip Morris, alleging that the cigarettes were negligently and defectively designed and that the defendant failed to adequately warn her of the dangers of smoking. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant intentionally and negligently misrepresented to the public and the medical and scientific community the adverse health effects of smoking, and concealed material facts relating to the dangers of cigarettes. A jury found that Philip Morris was guilty of malice, fraud or oppression with respect to each count, and awarded Bullock $850,000 in compensatory damages, as well as $13.8 million in punitive damages.

On appeal the Defendant contended that the punitive damages award was constitutionally excessive, and that a ratio of one-to-one would be appropriate in light of the substantial compensatory damages award. However, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, holding that in light of the “extreme reprehensibility of Philip Morris’s misconduct, including the vast scale and profitability of its course of misconduct, and its financial condition,” an award of approximately 16 times the compensatory damages was justified and not unconstitutionally excessive:

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Posted in: Punitive Damages



RCRSD Partner Receive 2010 California Lawyer Attorney of The Year Awards

By on April 16, 2010 - Comments off

Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc. (RCRSD) partners Mark P. Robinson, Jr. and Kevin Calcagnie were recently honored as recipients of the 2010 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Awards. The CLAY awards are presented annually by California Lawyer Magazine to attorneys in various areas of legal practice whose achievements have made a profound impact on the law. Mr. Robinson and Mr. Calcagnie received the awards in the category of Appellate Law, for their work in connection with the California Supreme Court ruling In re Tobacco II Cases (2009) 46 Cal.4th 298, 311, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 559, 207 P.3d 20.

(CLAY) Awards Kevin & Mark

According to California Lawyer, “the 4-3 holding breathed new life into Unfair Competition Law class actions in which consumers allege they relied on misleading statements and advertising. Under Proposition 64, passed in 2004 to curb such litigation, plaintiffs must show they lost money or property as a result of the unfair competition. Some courts had interpreted this to mean that each class member—not just the lead plaintiff—would need to show he or she suffered an injury.”

“But in Tobacco II, the state Supreme Court held that so long as the representative plaintiff meets the standing requirements of an injury, the claims of the entire class may survive. The ruling allows that some individuals may be members of a class even if they do not have standing to file suit on their own. Previously, a number of courts had denied class certification without a showing that all class members relied on the false claims.”

RCRSD attorney Karen L. Karavatos was also a member of the team that worked on the appeal, along with Sharon Arkin of the Arkin Law Firm and and Tom Haklar of Dougherty, Hildre & Haklar.