Boeken v. Philip Morris Inc., No. B152959.

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtHastings
Docket NumberNo. B152959.
PartiesJudy BOEKEN, as Trustee, etc., Plaintiff and Respondent, v. PHILIP MORRIS INCORPORATED, Defendant and Appellant.
Decision Date01 April 2005
26 Cal.Rptr.3d 638
127 Cal.App.4th 1640
Judy BOEKEN, as Trustee, etc., Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
PHILIP MORRIS INCORPORATED, Defendant and Appellant.
No. B152959.
Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4.
April 1, 2005.
Rehearing Denied April 20, 2005.
Review Denied August 10, 2005.*
Certiorari Denied March 20, 2006. See 126 S.Ct. 1567.

[26 Cal.Rptr.3d 645]

Arnold & Porter, Murray G. Garnick, Robert A. McCarter, Ronald C. Redcay and Maurice A. Leiter, Los Angeles, for Defendant and Appellant.

Michael J. Piuze, Los Angeles, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

HASTINGS, J.


127 Cal.App.4th 1649
BACKGROUND

Richard Boeken filed this action on March 16, 2000, alleging various theories including negligence, strict product liability and fraud resulting in personal injuries caused by his cigarette addiction.1 The complaint alleges that Boeken began smoking in 1957, when he was a minor, that he smoked Marlboro and Marlboro Lights, both manufactured by Philip Morris USA, Inc., and that he was ultimately diagnosed with lung cancer in 1999.

The cause was tried to a jury over approximately nine weeks, beginning in March 2001. The jury found that Philip Morris products consumed by

127 Cal.App.4th 1650

Boeken were defective either in design or by failure to warn prior to 1969, resulting in injuries to Boeken. The jury also found liability to Boeken based upon fraud by intentional misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, false promise, and negligent misrepresentation, concluding that Boeken had justifiably relied upon fraudulent utterances and concealment by Philip Morris. Compensatory damages in the amount of $5,539,127 were awarded by the jury. It also assessed punitive damages in the sum of $3 billion dollars.

A Philip Morris motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict was denied.

26 Cal.Rptr.3d 646

Its motion for new trial was conditionally granted solely on the issue of punitive damages unless Boeken accepted a reduction in punitive damages to the sum of $100 million, in which case the motion was denied. Boeken consented to the reduction and an amended judgment was entered on September 5, 2001. Philip Morris and Boeken each filed timely notices of appeal.

We issued our first opinion on September 21, 2004, affirming the judgment but further reducing punitive damages to the amount of $50 million. Philip Morris and Boeken each filed petitions for rehearing, which we granted. We heard further argument on February 15, 2005. After reconsidering the issues raised by the parties, we again affirm the judgment and order reduction of punitive damages to $50 million, if Boeken accepts the remittitur. If he does not, we affirm the order of the trial court granting a new trial to Philip Morris on the issue of punitive damages.

EVIDENCE REGARDING SMOKING, ITS EFFECTS AND THE FALSE CONTROVERSY2

Physicians had the ability in the mid-nineteenth century to diagnose lung cancer. It was a rare disease until some years after the first commercial prerolled cigarettes were introduced in the United States in 1913. In the 1930s, there was a sharp increase in the number of cases diagnosed, and by the end of World War II, its incidence had increased 20-fold.

Boeken's epidemiological expert, Dr. Richard Doll, joined Professor Bradford Hill at the London School of Hygiene in the late 1940s, to conduct the first studies in the United Kingdom to determine the cause of lung cancer, and why its incidence had increased so dramatically. Statistics

127 Cal.App.4th 1651

established a causal connection between smoking and cancer, and Doll and Hill published their results in 1950 in the British Medical Journal.3

A Dutch scientist had published a paper in 1948, having reached the same results, and in 1950, a smaller American study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by American scientists Drs. Graham and Wynder, also reaching the same conclusion. There had been earlier studies in Germany, but they were not given much weight because the scientific methods used were not optimal.

The popular media and the United Kingdom Department of Health were not convinced by the Hill and Doll study, and so the two undertook a years-long study of 40,000 smoking and nonsmoking English doctors who did not have lung cancer. They thought it would take 5 years to complete the study. But in 1954, after two years and 35 deaths due to lung cancer, they felt the results were clear and published their findings immediately in the British Medical Journal. This study was more widely accepted than the previous studies and changed attitudes considerably.

The American Cancer Society then undertook a two-year study with 190,000 subjects, in order disprove Doll's conclusions. In 1954, its scientists reported their belief that the conclusions reached in the British study had been correct. Even after publication of Doll's second study and the American Cancer Society study, some leading scientists still questioned the link

26 Cal.Rptr.3d 647

between lung cancer and smoking, and opinion among scientists was evenly divided until about 1956. At that time, opinion had firmed up quite definitely among scientists that smoking caused lung cancer.

Neil Benowitz, M.D., Boeken's addiction expert, testified that nicotine is addictive, and the most effective way addiction is achieved is delivery by cigarette smoke.4 Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, insomnia, trouble concentrating, nervousness, and dysphoria (mild depression), and can last for months after quitting. Some symptoms last forever. Smokers use denial and rationalization to continue doing what is obviously or apparently

127 Cal.App.4th 1652

harming them and may acknowledge a general risk, but given a choice of conflicting opinions, they will choose the opinion that supports continued tobacco use.

In 1954, the tobacco industry embarked upon a decades-long strategy to create public doubt about the "health charge" through "vigorous" but not actual denial, such as by claiming that experimental proof was still lacking, and that the statistics were not to be trusted, because they were poorly obtained or grossly exaggerated.5

First, several tobacco companies, including Philip Morris, formed the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC), a public relations organization, to counter the "anti-cigarette crusade" by providing "balancing information" regarding "unproven facts."6 To announce its formation, it published "A Frank Statement" in newspapers across the country. The "Frank Statement" claimed: "Distinguished authorities point out ... that there is no proof that cigarette smoking is one of the causes [of lung cancer] [and] statistics purporting to link cigarette smoking with the disease could apply with equal force to any one of many other aspects of modern life. Indeed, the validity of the statistics themselves is questioned by numerous scientists."7

According to Dr. Doll, the Frank Statement was a "bald untruth." While some scientists had questioned the link, most knew at the time of the Frank Statement that smoking caused lung cancer.

Tobacco studies continued throughout the 1950s in many countries, including Japan,

26 Cal.Rptr.3d 648

Denmark, and France. In 1957, the United States Heart and Lung Institute, the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, and American Cancer Society appointed a joint committee to advise on the state of the science, and concluded that smoking was a cause of lung cancer. The Auerbach study, published in 1957, showed pictures of various stages to demonstrate how the risk of lung cancer increased after a certain number of years of smoking.

127 Cal.App.4th 1653

In 1960, the World Health Organization issued a report stating that smoking was a cause of lung cancer, and an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that no responsible observer could deny the association. Scientists did not yet know what specific substance in cigarette smoke caused lung cancer, but it was proven by 1953 that cigarette smoking caused it by some means, and by 1960, it was indisputable.

Nevertheless, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies continued their campaign of doubt. TIRC continued its work, issuing press releases, making personal contacts with journalists, providing "favorable" materials for editorials, articles, and columns, and providing assistance to the authors of such books as You Don't Have to Give up Smoking and Smoke Without Fear.

A 1957 TIRC press release quoted its chairman and scientific director as saying, "No substance has been found in tobacco smoke known to cause cancer in human beings." The statement was literally true in that the specific mechanism in cigarettes that caused lung cancer was still unknown, but it was misleading, because the cause and effect had been proven.

In the late 1950s, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies formed another trade organization, the Tobacco Institute, to speak on their behalf. The Tobacco Institute issued press releases, such as the 1961 "Tobacco Institute Statement," which asserted, among other things, "The repetition by Dr. Wynder of his firm opinions does not alter the fact that the cause or causes of lung cancer continue to be unknown and are the subject of continuing extensive scientific research by many agencies." And a 1962 press release sent to CBS protesting a program on youth smoking stated, "causes of lung cancer are still unknown."

The statements were false. In 1961, there were a few other established causes of lung cancer, such as asbestos, but the affected industries were taking precautions to protect people from exposure. Ninety percent of lung cancers were shown to be caused by tobacco. There was no cancer researcher at that time who would say that the causes of lung cancer continued to be unknown.

In 1965, the Tobacco Institute issued a press release based upon the "genetic theory" of well-known statistician Ronald Fisher, who opined that there was a...

To continue reading

Request your trial
334 practice notes
  • Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., B234271
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 29, 2013
    ...we may consider both civil penalties actually imposed and those authorized in comparable cases (Boeken v. Philip Morris, Inc. (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640, 1699, 26 Cal.Rptr.3d 638), the penalties the trial [161 Cal.Rptr.3d 647]court considered are not analogous to this situation because the......
  • In re Tobacco II Cases, No. S147345.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 18, 2009
    ...challenges, specifically focusing on the sufficiency of the evidence supporting reliance. (Boeken v. Philip Morris, Inc.(2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640, 26 Cal.Rptr.3d 638 (Boeken); Whiteley v. Philip Morris, Inc.(2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 635, 11 Cal. Rptr.3d 807 (Whiteley).) In each case, the def......
  • Bankhead v. Arvinmeritor, Inc., Nos. A131587
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 11, 2012
    ...Cal.App.4th 77]weigh the evidence and resolve issues of credibility. [Citation.]’ [Citation.]” ( Boeken v. Philip Morris, Inc. (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640, 1689, 26 Cal.Rptr.3d 638( Boeken ).) In contrast, we, as an “appellate court[,] cannot reweigh the credibility of witnesses or resolve ......
  • Beckwith v. Dahl, No. G044479.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 3, 2012
    ...enjoy his ill-gotten plunder for the simple reason that his victim is by chance a fool.” ’ ” ( Boeken v. Philip Morris, Inc. (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640, 1667, 26 Cal.Rptr.3d 638( Boeken ).) “ ‘ “Negligence on the part of the plaintiff in failing to discover the falsity of a statement is no......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
333 cases
  • Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., B234271
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 29, 2013
    ...we may consider both civil penalties actually imposed and those authorized in comparable cases (Boeken v. Philip Morris, Inc. (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640, 1699, 26 Cal.Rptr.3d 638), the penalties the trial [161 Cal.Rptr.3d 647]court considered are not analogous to this situation because the......
  • In re Tobacco II Cases, No. S147345.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 18, 2009
    ...challenges, specifically focusing on the sufficiency of the evidence supporting reliance. (Boeken v. Philip Morris, Inc.(2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640, 26 Cal.Rptr.3d 638 (Boeken); Whiteley v. Philip Morris, Inc.(2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 635, 11 Cal. Rptr.3d 807 (Whiteley).) In each case, the def......
  • Bankhead v. Arvinmeritor, Inc., Nos. A131587
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 11, 2012
    ...Cal.App.4th 77]weigh the evidence and resolve issues of credibility. [Citation.]’ [Citation.]” ( Boeken v. Philip Morris, Inc. (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640, 1689, 26 Cal.Rptr.3d 638( Boeken ).) In contrast, we, as an “appellate court[,] cannot reweigh the credibility of witnesses or resolve ......
  • Beckwith v. Dahl, No. G044479.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 3, 2012
    ...enjoy his ill-gotten plunder for the simple reason that his victim is by chance a fool.” ’ ” ( Boeken v. Philip Morris, Inc. (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640, 1667, 26 Cal.Rptr.3d 638( Boeken ).) “ ‘ “Negligence on the part of the plaintiff in failing to discover the falsity of a statement is no......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • A Complex Achievement: The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
    • United States
    • Looking back to move forward: resolving health & environmental crises Section I
    • October 11, 2020
    ...42 (Cal. Ct. App. 2003) (awarding the plaintif $25 million in punitive damages, reduced in later proceedings); Boeken v. Philip Inc., 26 Cal. Rptr. 3d 638 (Cal. Ct. App. 2005) (reducing a punitive damage award to $50 million). 217. Gostin, supra note 21, at 211–12. Copyright © 2020 Environm......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT