Justice is Served…for the third time, no less. The Supreme Court of Oregon has reaffirmed a $79.5M jury verdict in a tobacco products safety case against Philip Morris. The award was for the family of Jesse Williams, a former Portland janitor who started smoking during a 1950s Army hitch and died in 1997 six months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. A jury in Portland made the award in 1999.
The Oregon Supreme Court said in Thursday’s ruling that Philip Morris and the tobacco industry worked during the 1950s on a “program of disinformation” to create doubt about the dangers of smoking. Williams “learned from watching television that smoking did not cause lung cancer,” but, once he came down with it, said the “cigarette people” had lied to him.
What’s particularly satisfying about the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision is that it reaffirms, for the third time, that the jury in the American Civil Justice System knows best. Despite the repeated attempts by the United States Supreme Court to take away the plaintiff’s verdict in this case, the Oregon jury’s decision has finally prevailed, proving again the jury knows best and the jury system works. It seems that only when Big Corporate America loses a trial does it rail against what they term “activist”judges. What is surprising is, if there is any “activist” judges in this case, it is the United States Supreme Court justices. They tried and tried to take away the jury’s verdict and impose their own judgment on a trial that involved Oregon citizens and was decided by Oregon citizens. But, fortunately, the Justices’ attempts have failed and, hopefully, the jury’s verdict will now stand in this case.
By the way, when did it become wrong in America to be held accountable for your wrongdoing, including a corporations? The American Civil Justice System and trial by jury, is the only way to ensure justice is served, fairly, equally, impartially, without being a respector persons. There are those in our country who would tear down our revered jury trial system and eliminate accountability in our nation’s courts for a myriad of wrongdoers. As a Georgia trial lawyer in the trenches, I will do everything in my power to fight the “dismantlers” of the American and Georgia Civil Justice System. The Oregon decision gives us renewed hope that justice will prevail for the little guy.