The Florida Supreme Court today rejected a €113.6bn punitive damages award against tobacco companies for injuring smokers, saying it was excessive.
The award had been the largest ever by an American jury.
The justices also approved an appellate court ruling that it had been a mistake to certify a class-action lawsuit representing an estimated 300,000 to 700,000 ill Floridians.
The certification led to the huge jury award for punitive damages in 2000.
The suit led by a paediatrician, Dr Howard Engle, was filed in Miami by the husband-and-wife legal team of Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt.
They accused the industry of misleading people about the dangers of smoking.
The Rosenblatts declined immediate comment today.
Originally filed in 1994 on behalf of all addicted smokers in the United States, the 3rd District Court of Appeal permitted a trial only after reducing the class to Florida smokers.
A majority of the state’s high court, however, reinstated a €2.2m damage award to smokers Mary Farnan and a €3.1m award to Angie Della Vecchia.
A €4.5m award to Frank Amodeo, like Farnan and Della Vecchia a cancer-stricken smoker who brought the original suit, was not restored in today’s ruling.
Tobacco stocks jumped on the news. Shares of Altria Group, parent of Phillip Morris USA, the biggest US cigarette maker, rose £2.27, or 5.7%, to £42.18 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.