Bloomberg Law
Nov. 26, 2018, 10:15 PMUpdated: Nov. 27, 2018, 3:30 PM

Philip Morris Sees $20.7M Punitive Award Reinstated (Corrected)

Martina Barash
Martina Barash

A Florida smoker’s estate succeeded in getting a $20.7 million punitive damages award against Philip Morris USA Inc. reinstated Nov. 26.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed with the estate of Judith Berger that the trial court shouldn’t have tossed the jury’s fraud and conspiracy verdicts, which allowed for punitive damages.

The panel also retained the company’s liability for compensatory damages. The jury set a compensatory award of $6.25 million but found Berger partially at fault, resulting in a $3.75 million judgment.

Berger’s suit is one of thousands that have proceeded in Florida using liability findings from a later decertified class action.

The case is Cote v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 11th Cir., No. 15-15633, 11/26/18.

(Corrects which court reduced compensatory damages.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina Barash in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at; Steven Patrick at