The AAJ is reporting as follows concerning punitive damages in tobacco-related cases:
In the first case of the so-called Engle progeny to reach the Florida Supreme Court, the court has declined to review a lower court’s decision upholding $3.3 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages for the widow of a smoker. (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Martin, No. SC11-483 (Fla. July 19, 2011).)
In Engle v. Liggett Group in 2006, the Florida Supreme Court threw out a $145 billion punitive damages award and decertified a class of smokers and their survivors. Instead, it allowed the plaintiffs to pursue their claims individually, using Engle’s findings regarding the tobacco companies’ liability. Certain findings were given res judicata effect. (945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006).)
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A New York hospital is attempting to overturn a $56 million verdict in a birth injury lawsuit won by a family last year after their son’s shoulder became stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery.
The shoulder dystocia lawsuit was filed by the Swanson family, alleging that Northern Westchester Hospital botched the delivery of their newborn child in October 2003, leading to permanent and debilitating injuries and nerve damage. The hospital announced last month that it was appealing the verdict.
The AP (12/9) reports, "A federal court jury on Wednesday ordered healthcare company Johnson & Johnson to pay damages of $1.8 million in the case of an 82-year-old man who sued over claims the antibiotic Levaquin (levofloxacin) caused him severe tendon injuries." The trial "was the first on more than 2,600 other US lawsuits making similar claims."
The New York Times "Prescriptions" blog (12/9) reports, "In a closely watched case, a federal jury on Wednesday awarded a Minnesota resident a total of $1.82 million in damages, finding that Johnson & Johnson had failed to adequately warn patients that its antibiotic Levaquin may cause tendon damage." The jury "awarded $1.12 million in punitive damages and $700,000 in compensatory damages to John Schedin, 82." A spokesman for Orthio-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals said, "We are disappointed with the jury's decision and will vigorously defend against plaintiff's claims on appeal."