“…The verdict sets up a second phase of deliberations in which the jury could also award Evans’s estate and family punitive damages, which often are a multiple of the amounts awarded in the compensatory phase…”
Here is another example of how the American system of jurisprudence is seriously flawed rendering the law a crapshoot and the family of this nice deceased lady with the proverbial jackpot.
Granted, the tobacco company should pay some damages because its reprehensible conduct was partially responsible for the smoking habit which eventually led to her death. But $50 million and the prospect of many millions more in so-called “punitive” damages is not consistent with reasonable justice, nor could we expect another jury in this or a different but similar case to arrive at the same verdict.
Ironically, had this lady been murdered in cold blood by her next-door neighbor, that same jury would have probably compensated the family far less than $50 million from the defendant for her wrongful death.
The point is that there is no reasonable degree of consistency in American justice. Juries just do whatever they want to do and the law specifies no effective limits. One jury might do this while another jury would do that under the exact same factual situation. In criminal cases, the wrongdoer might get probation from one judge but hard time in prison from another for the same exact crime.
The law Authority! is a crapshoot – the luck of the draw.