Plaintiffs' attorney Madeline Chaber has now tried the same case on the same set of facts for the same plaintiff against the same defendant -- and gotten much the same verdict.
On March 20, 2000, a San Francisco jury awarded Chaber, terminally ill with lung cancer, $1.72 million in compensatory and $20 million in punitive damages against two tobacco companies. In 2004, the verdict was reversed by an appellate court, and remanded for retrial.
Chaber obtained a second victory for the Whitely family against R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris for Mrs. Whitely's lung cancer. The verict was handed down on May 2, 2007. The jury again found that the defnedants had made false claims to Mrs. Whitely, a life time smoker, on which she relied.
The first verdict, in March of 2000, awarded Leslie Whitely and her husband $1.7 million in compensatory damages, and $10 million each against the defendants. That verdict was overturned because the Appeals and Supreme Courts of California found that the evidence was potentially tainted by evidence of conduct from 1988 to 1998, a period in which tobacco companies were immune from suit by smokers in California.
This second verdict awarded the heirs only $1.7 million in compensatory damages against the two cigarette manufacturers, and $250,000 in punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds only. An 8-4 vote spared Phillip Morris from punitive damages. Defendants plan an appeal.