In Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Cohen, Nos. 4D10-3534, 4D10-4065 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2012), the Florida appellate court addressed the question of whether the trial court had erred by refusing to instruct the jury based on the statute of repose. The jury ultimately awarded the plaintiff $10 million in non-economic compensatory damages and $10 million punitive damages. The court upheld the $10 million compensatory award as not excessive and supported by findings that defendants were negligent in selling defective cigarettes. The court also found that although the punitive award was not excessive, the trial judge should have given an instruction based on the statute of repose, limiting the jury in its deliberations about the fraudulent concealment claim to statements made by defendants after 1982. Consequently, the court remanded the matter for a new trial directed solely to the question whether plaintiff is entitled to receive punitive damages based on statements made by defendants after the specified repose date in 1982.
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Statute of repose must be applied to punitive damages award
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