On September 15, 2021, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a trial court’s decision to allow a punitive-damages claim to go forward in a wrongful death case against Philip Morris USA. The decision was a setback for WLF, which filed an amicus brief in the case. In its brief urging reversal, WLF argued that failing to bar the plaintiff’s punitive damages claim under settled res judicata principles would not only undermine the Commonwealth’s public policy favoring litigation settlement, but would also discourage defendants from settling parens patriae suits in the future. That would be a calamity for litigants, the judiciary, and the Commonwealth. The Court disagreed,  holding that “the doctrine of claims preclusion does not apply in these circumstances.” WLF submitted its amicus brief with the pro bono assistance of attorney Douglas S. Brooks of the Boston firm Libby Hoopes Brooks PC.


WLF brief