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Boeken v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.

California Supreme Court
230 P.3d 342 (2010)


Facts

Richard Boeken began smoking cigarettes in 1957 and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1999. Richard sued Philip Morris USA Inc. (Philip Morris) (defendant) in 2000 for causing his cancer. Richard received over $5.5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. Also in 2000, Richard’s wife, Judy Boeken (plaintiff), sued Philip Morris, alleging a claim of common law loss of consortium. Judy alleged that Philip Morris’s wrongful conduct caused Richard’s lung cancer, which rendered Richard unable to perform his necessary spousal duties. Judy alleged that Richard would not be able to perform spousal work in the future. A few months later, Judy dismissed her lawsuit with prejudice. Richard died in 2002, and Judy filed a wrongful death action against Philip Morris. Philip Morris filed a motion to dismiss, or a demurrer, alleging that the wrongful death claim was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. The trial court granted the demurrer. The California Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kennard, J.)

Dissent (Moreno, J.)

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