The son of a man who died of lung cancer from smoking Marlboro cigarettes is entitled to $22.2 million from Philip Morris USA
Inc., an attorney told a jury Monday during closing arguments in the 19-year-old’s wrongful death case.
The figure recommended by lawyer Michael Piuze on behalf of Dylan Boeken represents $1 million a year for the 22.2 additional years the plaintiff’s father, Richard Boeken, could have expected to live had he not died of his illness in January 2002 at age 57.
His son, who was 10 at the time, is claiming damages for loss of his father’s love, affection, guidance and training.
Mixing his presentation with silent moments showing the jury a montage of Boeken family photos, along with his own singing of a portion of the 1960s song “What the World Needs Now is Love,” Piuze said Richard Boeken’s unselfishness and dedication to helping others left an imprint on his only child.
“Many people’s lives are much better because he is around,” Piuze said. “A lot of him lives on in Dylan.”
Attorney Frank Kelly III, on behalf of Philip Morris, countered that Dylan Boeken has shown by the way he has led his life since his father’s death that his damages are not quite as Piuze portrayed them.
“Dylan didn’t lose what Rick had given him,” Kelly said. “He accepted it and built upon it. I think the evidence shows the gifts he was given …didn’t just disappear.”
Richard Boeken made headlines in 2001 when he won a $3 billion judgment against Philip Morris, although the sum was later cut to $55 million. He died seven months after the verdict in his case. The disease had spread to the spine and brain of the two-pack-a-day smoker, who began his cigarette habit at age 13.
Dylan Boeken’s lawsuit was filed in June 2006. His mother, Judy Boeken, also was a plaintiff until Judge David Minning dismissed her claim in February 2007.
Since the legal issues were decided in the father’s trial, the jury in Dylan Boeken’s case will only have to decide damages.
Piuze told jurors that Richard Boeken was “as good a dad as anyone could hope to have. Rick Boeken was an all-time classic Rolls Royce.”
He said the family lived for a while in Santa Monica, later in Pacific Palisades and finally in Topanga Canyon, where Richard Boeken died. But before his life ended, he was determined to try and beat his illness because of his commitment to his son, Piuze said.
He and his wife married in January 1981 and waited 10 years to have children because Judy Boeken, whose first marriage ended in divorce, wanted to make sure her new relationship would last, Piuze said.