Some initial thoughts on Philip Morris v. Williams from Jim Copland at Point of Law. By a 5-4 vote, in an opinion by Justice Breyer, the Court held that a punitive damage award cannot be based in part or whole on a jury’s desire to punish harms committed against non-parties to the litigation, although (a fine distinction, if indeed a tenable one) such harms may be taken into account in determining the defendant’s degree of reprehensibility.
More: Ted comments and rounds up links, also at PoL. Roger Parloff (Feb. 20) calls the majority’s distinction “narrow” and “confusing”. And Eric Turkewitz offers one view from the plaintiff’s side (“hair-splitting”; majority’s “Clintonian parsing…was too much for four of the justices”).