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Rob Kall Headshot

Taking A Lost Case to the Supreme Court-- Three Times?

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Altria, formerly R.J. Reynolds, the tobacco company, has been rebuffed by the U.S. Supreme Court in it's third effort to get out of paying a $79 million punitive damages judgment a jury awarded in 1999 because the widow of a patient who died of lung cancer, as AP reports it, "convinced a jury that Philip Morris should be held accountable for misleading people into thinking cigarettes weren't dangerous or addictive."

Three times, over ten years, Altria delayed and avoided paying the damages, which have grown to $145 million, with accrued interest.

The tough thing to swallow is that this case was allowed to be appealed three times to the supreme court. In my mind, and I think, the minds of most Americans and even the rest of the world, an appeal to the supreme court is the final, ultimate appeal and the decision is the final decision.

It is outrageously wrong that Altria/R.J. Reynolds tobacco could, because of its immense wealth and deep pockets, delay and abuse the system by re-appealing two more times after the original decision in 2002, which rejected the original $80 million award, saying, in a despicably pro-business decision, that the maximum punitive damage should be nine times actual economic loss. This is despicable because it takes the bottom up power of the people in the shape of the jury, to decide the appropriate punishment. Why should a bunch of right wing assholes, like Scalia, an arrogant bigot, Roberts, a liar who engaged in total dishonesty when interviewed for the job by the senate, Alito, a confessed right wing extremist and Justice Thomas, a right wing whore, be allowed to decide what is a fair and just punishment. This is total abrogation of states and community rights -- an attack upon local community by the supreme court's right wing corporate fascist whore quintet.

Perhaps, with an intent to salvage their irredeemable legacy, these Right Wingnut Supremes who chose to disrespect state values, did not firmly state that the nine times actual cost rule should apply to all damages. They were probably thinking that this might hurt some corporation going after a state or city some day. But they left the door open and the Oregon state supreme court came back with a decision to reinforce the same $79 million award citing "extraordinarily reprehensible" conduct by Philip Morris (now Altria) officials.

There was another appeal in 2007, where the same corporate-fascist quintet of supreme court justices protected corporations by saying that only the damaged person could sue, not others who had similar claims -- thus making it harder for individuals to seek justice against corporations. To the credit of the Oregon Supreme court, they basically told the SCOTUS justices to go F themselves and it held to the original reward, supporting the original trial judge's decision not to accept the instructions to the jury that R.J. Reynolds tried to insert, to influence the case. The Oregon supreme court determined that there were defects in those proposed instructions that violated Oregon law.

So, basically, what happened in 2007 was Altria complained because a judge didn't accept their request for instructions that would have helped their case. The SCOTUS right wing dirt-bag quintet-- Justice Scalia, Justices Thomas, Justice Alito, Chief Justice Roberts and the deal closer for the quintet, Justice Anthony Kennedy cast votes to protect corporations over people. The Oregon Supreme court justices held firm.

It's not over yet. There will be a final appeal to the Oregon Supreme court. They have a record the state of Oregon can be proud of.

But let's take a moment to think about appealing the rulings of the Supreme Court. I'm no attorney, but what if Al Gore had done it?

The Supreme court is broken. The quintet is an affliction upon democracy and the people of the nation and the planet. The five Supremes, with Justice Thomas being rated the most conservative -- the biggest dirtbag -- have shown their true colors. Their sense of justice is filtered through a corporate perspective. People can't appeal to the supreme court three times. Oh they may be allowed to, but no-one has the resources. There is something very wrong and it needs to be fixed.

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