(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a $1.5 million punitive damages judgment for a Kansas City area family in a long-running lawsuit against a tobacco company.
The court’s ruling Tuesday affirmed the 2009 judgment against Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. for the family of Barbara Smith. The Independence woman was a longtime smoker and died of a heart attack in 2000.
A Jackson County jury originally awarded her family $20 million in punitive damages in 2005. But a Missouri appeals court sent the case back for a new trial on punitive damages. The subsequent judgment of $1.5 million in punitive damages had been appealed both by Smith’s family and the tobacco company.
Brown & Williamson is now part of North Carolina-based Reynolds American Inc.
Also ,the Missouri Supreme Court upheld part of a 2006 law establishing a bonus payment if property taken through eminent domain has been owned by the same family for at least 50 years.
The case came from St. Louis County, where officials filed a petition in 2009 to condemn 15 acres for a highway extension.
That property had been deeded to Arthur Novel in 1904. His descendants and the county did not agree on proper compensation and three condemnation commissioners were appointed. The family disagreed with the commissioners’ conclusion and requested a jury trial. They were awarded $1.3 million plus an additional $650,000 because of how long the land has been owned by the family.
St. Louis County appealed, and the Missouri Supreme Court upheld in a 6-0 ruling Tuesday.