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Calif. Smoker Gets Higher Compensatory Damages in Second Trial


— May 2, 2007

For the second time in about seven years, a San Francisco jury has found two major tobacco companies liable for damages related to Leslie Whiteley’s habit of smoking cigarettes.

In court Wednesday, a jury recommended Whiteley’s husband get about $2.5 million in compensatory damages, more than the $1.7 million in compensatories attorney Madelyn Chaber helped the Whiteleys win the first time around, before a higher court ordered a retrial.

Yet it’s not clear how Leonard Whiteley will fare this time when it comes to punitive damages.

Back in 2000, the jury handed him and his wife a total of $21.7 million — including $20 million in punitives, $10 million each against two tobacco companies.

But that was before an appeal court overturned the entire verdict in 2004, and substantially limited the plaintiffs’ case going forward. In Whiteley v. Philip Morris, 117 Cal.App.4th 635, the 1st District Court of Appeal concluded the defendants could not be held liable for certain conduct during a 10-year window closed by the legislature beginning in 1988.

But in the retrial, it appears that only R.J. Reynolds will face punitive damages, not co-defendant Philip Morris.

Details here from The Recorder via Law.com.


For the second time in about seven years, a San Francisco jury has found two major tobacco companies liable for damages related to Leslie Whiteley’s habit of smoking cigarettes.

In court Wednesday, a jury recommended Whiteley’s husband get about $2.5 million in compensatory damages, more than the $1.7 million in compensatories attorney Madelyn Chaber helped the Whiteleys win the first time around, before a higher court ordered a retrial.

Yet it’s not clear how Leonard Whiteley will fare this time when it comes to punitive damages.

Back in 2000, the jury handed him and his wife a total of $21.7 million — including $20 million in punitives, $10 million each against two tobacco companies.

But that was before an appeal court overturned the entire verdict in 2004, and substantially limited the plaintiffs’ case going forward. In Whiteley v. Philip Morris, 117 Cal.App.4th 635, the 1st District Court of Appeal concluded the defendants could not be held liable for certain conduct during a 10-year window closed by the legislature beginning in 1988.

But in the retrial, it appears that only R.J. Reynolds will face punitive damages, not co-defendant Philip Morris.

Details here from The Recorder via Law.com.

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