Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em

I read an article in the paper this morning concerning yet another lawsuit verdict against a tobacco company. As a smoker for twenty-five years (I quit over seven years ago), I believe that gives me full license to comment on such stories.

It was a verdict in Los Angeles that awarded the daughter of a smoker who died eight years ago. The initial plaintiff was asking for over 13 million dollars in damages. The panel came back with that award plus a punitive damages award of 28 billion dollars. No, I did not type that incorrectly. That's 'B' as in billion. Fortunately a judge reduced it to 28 million and has ordered a new trial.

The tobacco companies had rule over the public and congress for decades. As the medical establishment finally educated us all and the evils of the weed became known, tobacco companies have gotten their comeuppance. They have now lost verdict after verdict and the money loss is staggering. I suppose they deserved it but enough is enough. By this point in time if you as a smoker are still smoking you have no one to blame but yourself.

This type of verdict justifies my lack of faith in both the judicial system for civil matters and again my thought that common sense is not very common. The monies awarded by juries is monopoly money. They are awards so high that no company whether justified or not could afford to pay it. The persons serving on these juries have no conception of what 28 million or billion dollars is. Most are not able to distinguish it from 10 million. They (as I) have never had it so the value has no meaning. Companies that prey on the public should be penalized and I agree the public should be made whole. The problem we now have is every company that makes a mistake or has an accident with a product is shoveled into the same heap as predatory companies.

Those who are damaged by predatory businesses should be compensated and those companies should be disbanded. But to award damages in the billions of dollars to a small group or an individual is just as much a predatory practice.

I think I'm special, but I'm not $28 billion special.

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