Bette Bullock v Philip Morris

Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Warren Ettinger presiding (original); Hon. Susan Bryant-Deason (retrial)
picture of Bette Bullock

Filed 2001

Verdict for the Plaintiff

Bette Bullock had a long history smoking the Philip Morris brand Benson & Hedges 100s. She sued the company when she was stricken with a lung cancer her doctors told her was caused by smoking cigarettes. Michael Piuze, of Los Angeles, tried the case for plaintiff Bullock only a year after successfully representing Richard Boeken in a similar lung cancer action against Philip Morris.

Plaintiff Attorney: Michael Piuze
Defendant Attorneys: (Original) Peter Bleakley, Maurice Leiter; Arnold & Porter; (Retrial) Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Frank P. Kelly; Mayer Brown, Lauren R. Goldman; Arnold & Porter, Ronald C. Redcay and E. Alex Beroukhim


  • 2001 – Case filed.
  • 2002 – August 20: Trial opening statements
  • 2002 – September 26: Verdict for the Plaintiff – compensatory damages $850,000
  • 2002 – October3: Verdict for the Plaintiff – punitive damages $28 billion
  • 2009 – Retrial reduced punitive damages to $13 million
  • 2011 – Appeals court upholds punitive damages.

“Philip Morris’ conduct was reprehensible and that a substantial award of punitive damages is necessary to have a deterrent effect upon the defendant.”

Hon. Warren Ettinger
Los Angeles Superior Court