Henley

Patricia Henley
v Philip Morris

Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco
The Honorable John Munter presiding

Filed 1998

Verdict for the Plaintiff

This individual personal injury suit is one of the “California cases” — cases that could not be brought until the California legislature undid the “Napkin deal” in 1998.

Plaintiff Attorney: Madelyn J. Chaber for Wartnick, Chaber, Harowitz, Smith & Tigerman
Defense Attorney: David K. Hardy of Shook, Hardy & Bacon for Philip Morris

Timeline

  • 1998 – May 5: Case filed
  • 1999 – January 7: Trial begins
  • 1999 – February 9: Jury returns verdict for the Plaintiff, with $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.
  • 1999 – February 10: Judge reduces punitive damages to $25 million. Defendant appeals.
  • 2001 – November 2001: California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Four, affirms judgment (93 Cal.App.4th 824)
  • California supreme Court grants review and retransfers the case with an order to vacatethedecision and reconsider insight of Myers v. Philip Morris and Naegele v. R.J. Reynolds.
  • 2003 – March 19: Court of Appeals affirms again on the basis that the defendant’s objections had not been preserved for appeal.
  • CA Supreme Court grants review a second time and remands for reconsideration in light of State farm v. Campbell.
  • Court of Appeal affirms in part but vacates punitive damages and orders a new trial unless plaintiff accepts an award of $9 million.  Plaintiff agrees to the reduction.
  • CA Supreme Court grants a third review and again retransfers the case.
  • 2003 – September 24: Court of Appeal affirms the case, finding that statutory immunity during an effective period was not sufficient to excuse the defendant’s conduct from being offered in support of the plaintiff’s case.
  • 2004 – February 13: Court of Appeal denies defendants motion for rehearing.
  • 2004 – September 16: CA Supreme Court affirms judgment.
  • 2005 – March 21: US Supreme Court denies certiorari.

Narrative

Patricia Henley began smoking at age 15 in the early 1960s, smoking a pack and a half of Marlboro reds a day until 1989. She then switched to Marlboro Lights and her consumption increased to three and a half packs her day. By the time she started smoking, the defendant and other cigarette manufacturers had conspired to conceal the health risks of smoking. In fact, the defendant targeted advertising at teenage audiences to replace its dying customers.

The jury found that Philip Morris engaged in widespread wrongdoing, violating the rights of Patricia Henley, a lung cancer victim, as to each of the causes of action asserted by her, including:

  • Defective product
  • Failing to warn
  • Negligence
  • Breach of warranty
  • Fraud by: misrepresentation, concealment, and false promise
  • Negligent Conspiracy

Philip Morris paid $16.7 million, including interest, to the plaintiff.

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