French v. Philip Morris Inc.
In a case arising from a settlement agreement between a class of flight attendants and several tobacco companies, a jury awarded an individual flight attendant 5.5 million dollars in damages, finding that exposure to second-hand smoke at her workplace caused her to develop chronic sinusitis. Upon consideration of defendants' motions to set aside the jury verdict, the Court reaffirmed its interpretation of the burden-shifting stipulations contained in the settlement agreement as requiring individual plaintiffs to prove only causation when prosecuting individual claims for damages. The Court's interpretation rendered proof of all other elements of plaintiffs' claims unnecessary. The Court further held that the apportionment of damages to the defendants according to their relative market shares was appropriate, but reduced the damages award to 500,000 dollars.