$145 billion award?

Alright this is getting ridiculous. I don’t believe that 6 ordinary people should have the power to make that kind of judgement on an award that big. And from what I have read I think these guys have been hearing testimony for 2 years. Would you allow anybody who can take off from their job for two years for $5 a day to make any judgement on your case? Who are all these guys? Anyone who can take off his/her job for 2 years is probably not making a good living or contributing to society in a meaningful way.

And the awards are ridiculous. The lawyers asked for 196 billion. Why not 999 trillion? or 10 X 10(50) dollars? or the US GNP for 10 million years? That’s stupid. No one’s life is worth 196 billion dollars.

I don’t smoke or care for smoking, but all this award does is put 72.5 billion dollars into some attorney’s pocket at the expense of many.

Anytime a state or a large company gets sued millions, 1/3 to 1/2 goes to lawyers’ pockets and everyone has to pay a little more.

The award of $145 billion is to pay off the 700,000 members of the class action suit, so each person only gets around $200,000.

The verdict will obviously be reduced on appeal. The tobacco companies don’t have that much money.

The Florida case was a class action suit, on behalf of the smokers of Florida (can’t remember the exact number of smokers represented) that’s why the amount is so high. Also, class actions suits usually are not the standard 1/3 contingency fee that most lawyers charge (nonetheless Rosenblatt, the plaintiffs’ primary lawyer will make a bundle).

All of that said, it is extremly doubtful that this decision will hold up in appeal. One reason is the sheer size of the punitive damage award - while the compensatory damages where only like 12.7 million. Another reason is the fact that it was a class action, most jurisdictions have not allowed class action cases in tabacco cases where punitive damages are sought.

major, I would certainly more trust the Judgement of the 6 people who heard 2 years of evidence; as opposed to someone who saw a 5min "sound bite’, and maybe read a 500 word article.

Sit on a Jury some day. You’ll see. I just spent the last year on a Grand Jury, and I came away with great respect for those who DO their civic duty, instead of those who bitch about those selfsaid civic minded Citizens.

This is starting to get ludicrous! It’s the same mentality that helped drive up medical costs when people suddenly discovered that they could sue doctors, hospitals and medical supply houses. The jury of their ‘peers’ – usually morons – promptly awarded sums in the millions for minor mistakes. As a result, all of us now pay through the a** for medical care and pills once costing $10 a bottle now cost $50. Doctors, once willing to carry you on the books, now want money up front.

Who will be next in this fanatical, media flamed insanity? Once a precedence is set, it opens the door for nuts.

Liquor companies? I mean, after all, how many people have died, been injured, lost their jobs, families and their health because of booze? To some, booze is just as addicting as cigarettes. Beer companies pay millions for a 60 second spot during spots games. (High stupidity!) How long before someone whose child was mowed down by a drunk files a multimillion dollar suit against them? Then MAD gets involved, followed by religious groups, and billions go up for grabs?

You nonsmoking beer drinkers out there feel like paying $4.00 a can or $10 a six pack? How about $20 for a bottle of Jack Daniel’s? You go into your local bar and order up a $5 beer followed by a $3 whiskey chaser. A $15 night starts to cost you $50.

What next? Anything else we like to do that might harm us or others?

Drivers. Cars can kill. The auto industry make billions. How long before they get sued for not taking into consideration that the driver of their product might be an idiot? That $20,000 van you drive now might suddenly pop up to $35,000.

It is not long before the mob mentality hits those ATV’s. They are noisy, wreck the ecology, are dangerous and fuel greedy. Then the Skidoo’s. They pollute the water, cause accidents, plow over Sea Cows and cause noise pollution.

The winners of the smoking lawsuits will have a bitter victory. The only good thing to come out of it will be a safer smoke.

As I posted in the pit, tobacco companies have profited off of mass murder. If they are sued into bankruptcy what harm would it do to America? What other industry gets to manufacture and distribute a product that is proven to kill one third of the people who use it AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BE USED. Products like cars and chainsaws don’t injure people when they are used as intended by the manufacturer, if they did there would be a recall. Alcohol can reduce the risk of heart disease if used in moderation, fatty foods provide calories and other nutririon we need to survive, but tobacco has NO health benefits whatsoever. If tobacco were banned and treated as a controlled substance, America would be better off. It has already been proven that the costs of tobacco use far outweigh the benefits to tobacco farmers, workers, shareholders, tax collections… I hope the tobacco companies all go out of business and never come back.

The critical issue is that tobacco companies intentionally misled its consumers about the dangers of smoking. This is fraud. And it wasn’t all that long ago that we watched tobacco executives testify, under oath, that cigarettes were not addictive and didn’t cause health problems.

Was the award excessive? Perhaps. But it’s difficult to see how the tobacco companies could have been found not liable.

I would imagine that by asking for $196 billion, the lawyers are A: getting what they really want by asking for a higher amount, and B: scaring the crap out of our cig-making buddies. “How much are we losing?” “196 billion.” “What the f–?!? Where’s the window? Geronimo-o-o-o-o-o-o-SPLAT!”

Great idea! Then it can be sold like other drugs, underground, in back alleys, on street corners, and to children.

IMO, (and I know hindsight is 20-20) the cig companies should have never lied. once they found out through their own research that smoking causes a variety a health problems, they should have admitted and continued marketing as they always did.

Ad could have read–

hey we know smoking can kill you, maybe you’ll get lung cancer or heart disease–maybe not. But you got to die of something–you might as well look cool doing it.

I should have gone into advertising :wink:

as for the punishment–well you lie about killing people and you get found out–i’m not shedding any tears. raise the price of cigarettes by 50 cents a pack and shut up.

and prism–i don’t care much about beer getting expensive–i brew my own :slight_smile:

Oh. You mean like it’s already marketed?

Speaking as a smoker that picked up the habit at age 18, I can say that for me, and everyone I know for that matter, advertising had nothing to do with my decision to smoke. Most smokers become smokers because their friends are doing it, their parents are smokers, etc. . . It never once crossed my mind when I was young to say “Hey, maybe I’ll take up smoking because those Camel ads look pretty cool.” Cigarette advertising is generally urging you to switch brands, not to start smoking in the first place.

I agree with PRISM02. I have personally known three people whose lives were destroyed by alcoholism. I don’t know anyone with lung cancer. Alcohol is a greater threat in my opinion. A smoker can drive a car after smoking an entire pack, but I wouldn’t want to be on the road with a guy who had just downed a 6-pack of brew. This is not to say that cigarettes are safe. They do cause lung cancer, and other ailments, but today’s smoker, in my opinion has absolutely no claim on the cigarette manufacturers.

I am a smoker. I know the risks, and chose to smoke anyway. Years ago, the risks were not as widely known, and the people who smoked at that time have a legitimate beef because the information wasn’t out there. Today, the media is saturated with information on the dangers of smoking. If smokers chose to diregard this information and continue smoking, then they are responsible for whatever happens to them. Quitting is not impossible. If I drink incessantly and destroy my liver, should I be able to sue the alcohol manufacturers? If I eat Ding-Dongs constantly and gain three hundred pounds, can I sue Hostess for my weight gain and heart problems? Where does personal responsiblity fall into this? We each chose what goes into our body, and I think it’s stupid to hold someone else responsible for what an individual person decides to do.

Well that answers my question. You’re the type of guy who can sit on a jury for a year. And you’re the only guy who attacked the OP instead of answering the question. I rest my case.

This topic is also a rant against stupid humongous damages. That $4.9billion judgement against GM for example in an auto accident case this year. A drunk driver slammed into a 20 year old Malibu and it burst into flames burning a family.

The family was awarded 4.9bill. The jury members were idiots. Did they think that the CEO and the board of directors were going to take $4.9 billion out of their own pockets? No the $4.9 billion is actually a punishment for future GM car buyers in the form of higher prices. Where do these people think all these humongous damages come from? They think that $4.9 billion can be paid from some hidden pocket and not affect future costs?

I have no problem with the tobacco companies being drawn and quartered for their lying to the public but what I a bit concerned with is the precedent being set by the tremendous award granted by the jury. There are now several million people addicted to tobacco and it is up to those companies to find a safer way to deliver the drug, something they might have a problem with when they have to pay such enormous fines.

How many other companies have lied to the public and endangered their lives? The auto industry produced several dangerous vehicles and sold them regardless of the hazards. (One famous car would turn over at low speeds - Corsair -, one truck had exposed saddle fuel tanks that blew up on impact, then the Pinto with rear end collisions, the Yugo would not pass any safety regulations today but was sold readily some years back. Seat belts were delayed for years, and the fiberglass construction of a Corvette still has some questioning survivability of a major crash.)

Major passenger aircraft refuse to provide emergency life rafts for those airplanes flying over the sea though the FCC has stated they need to.

Your major aircraft builders of commercial airplanes use a certain type of wiring that the FCC has stated they switch because the plastic coating will ignite with even a slight short circuit, burn furiously and give off a poisonous gas.

DDT is banned in America. We still produce it and send it to other nations. Now it is sent back to us in the form of vegetables from some of those nations. The importers know this, but neglect to tell us about it.

How about all of those grocery stores selling out of date fish and chicken? They dip the fish in a bleach mix to get rid of the stench. The chicken is usually hacked up, washed and repackaged. Sometimes it is cooked and sold like that. Sometimes it is covered with spices and packaged and offered as ‘preseasoned BBQ or Oven Roast.’

The list goes on and on and on.

Should each violator be sued for billions? If so, eventually you’ll go buy your pack of hot dogs with a bucket of those gold dollars.

Do you drink? See my previous post. How about $10 a beer? What do you think it would be like if the booze makers suddenly came under the fire that the tobacco companies and smokers have? It would not take much.

I have no problem with the tobacco companies being fined, however, I do have a problem with the size of the settlement. The first few doctors to be sued were moderately hit. Then people smelled money. After that, the doctors were hit for millions granted by juries who felt that the professionals were made of money. After that, people started suing hospitals, then drug companies and then the makers of medical supplies.

End result? The hospital charges you $10 for a Band-Aid. Your medical insurance has quadrupled in cost, some hospitals and doctors will turn you away if you cannot pay, and, for a time, doctors were afraid to stop and help accident victims on the road.

So, after the tobacco companies, who’s next?

Actually, Major, at the end of fiscal year 1999, GM had current assets of $133 billion dollars, of which $21 billion was in cash, so they could have conceivably paid the $4.9 billion settlement out of their own “pocket.” Tobacco companies are less rich, and will undoubtedly suffer under this judgment. For comparison, Philip Morris, who I believe is the largest tobacco company, had current assets of $21 billion and cash equal to $5 billion at the end of FY99.

They will have to pass these costs on to their customers for sure. But I don’t see that as a reason to let them off the hook. Otherwise, how would you punish a negligent corporation? The idea is to force them to raise their prices so consumers go somewhere else. Of course, they shouldn’t all be bankrupted, and Florida law will protect them against this.

PRISM02, the issue is that the tobacco companies did research, found nicotine to be strongly addictive and cigarettes to be deadly, and then stated, explicitly and repeatedly, that nicotine was not addictive and cigarettes were safe. This is not true of any of the other industries you have named. I’m not condoning the actions of these other industries, but it’s not the same thing.

The final issue is scale. How many people died in Pinto accidents? 100? And Ford paid up. How many have drowned after their planes crashed into the ocean? None that I’m aware of, but when it happens, expect a lawsuit. It won’t be for billions of dollars, because many fewer people will be affected. But millions of people have died from smoking, and 200,000 of them were co-plaintiffs in the suit. The rule is, the more people you harm and the more seriously you harm them, the more you have to pay when you’re caught.

Again, I’m not saying the award wasn’t excessive. I can’t say, since I don’t have all the information the jurors had.

PRISM02 wrote:

Gun manufacturers.

There are about a bazillion lawsuits pending against Ruger, Glock, etc., because of injuries and deaths inflicted by criminals who illegally got hold of their firearms. Some of these cases have been thrown out of court, but enough of them have not been thrown out that the legal costs alone of defending against them will probably bankrupt these companies.

Dumb Ox wrote:

So the moral of the story is: If you suspect that your products might be addictive or dangerous, you should never ever do research which might prove your suspicions are correct, because the public will just use your own research to sue you to death.

Nice precedent. :rolleyes:

Excellent comment.

the cigarette companies have known for more years than I smoked that their product was addictive and deadly. And yet, instead of attempting to make their product less addictive/deadly, they engineered their product to be MORE addictive and hid the information about the dangers.

Now, if I were running a company that I could foresee would have huge legal liabilities in the future, I sure would have busted my R& D department to MINIMIZE that risk and start figuring out how to grow Oreo cookies or something else.

Instead, the cigarette manufacturers continued to make their product more addictive and went on to stragetize their marketing to children and the rest of the world.

Seriously, what is it going to take for the companies to figure out something else to do?? after all, the folks who made asbestos insulations STOPPED DOING IT when it was shown to be a danger to the people who used it. now, much of that was regulated and came because people stopped using it, but, come on, the cig companies are INCREASING their addictive natures to continue producing the NEED for their product. self imposed pain does NOT mean I should feel sorry for them. they should have re-tooled their industry years ago. they’ve had 20+ years to work on it.