$150M Verdict vs. Philip Morris Thrown Out; Court Orders New Trial

A $150 million jury verdict against cigarette maker Philip Morris was vacated Wednesday by the Oregon Court of Appeals, which ordered a new trial after a trial judge ruled the verdict was excessive.

A jury in 2002 ordered the tobacco company to pay $150 million in punitive damages to the estate of Michelle Schwarz, who died of lung cancer in 1999 at age 53.

But Multnomah County Circuit Judge Roosevelt Robinson found that amount "grossly excessive" and reduced it by a third, to $100 million.

The appeals court vacated the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial solely to determine the amount of punitive damages.

Philip Morris is a unit of New York-based Altria Group Inc.