Today the Florida Supreme Court upheld an appeals court decision that threw out an absurd $145 billion award in a class action suit against the major tobacco companies. The court concluded that the punitive damages–the largest such award in history–were "excessive as a matter of law" and that in any event the case should not have been allowed to proceed as a class action, since it involved claims of deception by some 700,000 smokers, each of whom had a different history of exposure to and reliance upon tobacco company statements. As I noted at the time of the verdict six years ago, the decision was a striking example of how jurors pull numbers out of thin air to express their emotions.
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