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US Supreme Court Rejects $79.5 Million in Damages Against Cigarette Maker

The U.S. Supreme Court has thrown out a $79.5 million punitive damages award against cigarette maker Philip Morris.

By a 5-4 vote, the court Tuesday ruled the company could only be held responsible for harm done to the plaintiff in the case, not other smokers.

In 1999, the widow of a longtime smoker Jesse Williams who died of lung cancer won a jury award of $800,000 in compensatory damages and $79.5 million in punitive damages.

The northwestern U.S. state of Oregon Supreme Court upheld the decision last year, saying Philip Morris knew the dangers of smoking but did not let the public know.

The company then appealed to the U.S. high court, saying the punitive award was excessive because it was nearly 100 times the compensatory damages.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.