Statement by Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook
The $145 billion punitive damages verdict issued Friday against the tobacco industry in Engle v. Philip Morris demonstrates the public outrage resulting from the industry’s reckless misbehavior. For many years, the tobacco companies lied to the government and the public and intentionally hooked millions of children and young people on cigarettes to increase profits. Tens of millions of people have died because of the industry’s coverup and deceit.
The jurors have spoken loudly and clearly to condemn the reckless and wanton actions of the tobacco industry. But this is not the end of the process. The tobacco companies can ask the judge to reduce or set aside the damages. They can appeal the verdict and then take it to Florida’s supreme court and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court. The beauty of our civil justice system is that it has multiple layers of review, so that at the end of the day, justice is done.