A landmark tobacco case that was first tried three years ago and which was returned to the Missouri Court of Appeals by the Missouri Supreme Court in July this year, finally moved forward this week.
In February 2005, a Jackson County jury found Brown &Williamson responsible for the death of Barbara Smith who died of a heart attack at the age of 73 after smoking Kool cigarettes for almost 50 years. The jury awarded Smith's family, who brought the case against the tobacco company, $2 million in compensatory damages which they later reduced to $500,000. They also set a precedent by awarding the family $20 million in punitive damages - the largest ever in a Missouri smoking case.
The tobacco company appealed and since the basis of the jury's decision for the punitive award was unclear, the Missouri Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in August last year only for the issue of punitive damages.
The Supreme Court heard the trial in February but sent the case back to the appeals court in July. Thus the appeals court re-adopted its earlier August 2007 decision and sent the case back to the trial court for a trial exclusively for punitive damages.
Pic courtesy yoppy from flickr.com