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Court Gives New Life To $150 Million Tobacco Lawsuit

Chris Lehman


SALEM, Ore. - Tobacco giant Philip Morris could be back on the hook for a $150 million judgement. The Oregon Supreme Court Thursday gave the green light for a jury to reconsider the amount of damages to be awarded to the family of a woman who died after years of smoking.


Michele Schwarz died in 1999 of complications from lung cancer. Her family sued Philip Morris, whose parent company is now called Altria. The family claimed the company's marketing of low-tar cigarettes led Schwarz to believe she was avoiding the harmful effects of tobacco.

A jury agreed and awarded the family $150 million in damages. A lower court then reduced that amount to $100 million. Both the family and Philip Morris appealed.

Now, the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that the case should go back to trial, but only to determine the amount of damages, not whether those damages were justified.

The attorney for the Schwarz family, Chuck Tauman, says it's unclear how much his clients will seek this time.

Chuck Tauman: "Whether we seek the same amount or reduce or increase that is something that we will decide probably within a very short period of time."

Tauman says he expects the case to go back to trial in the early part of 2011.

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Oregon Supreme Court decision:

Copyright 2010 Northwest News Network