A jury Tuesday ordered Philip Morris USA Inc. to pay $12.8 million to the 19-year-old son of a man who died of lung cancer from smoking Marlboro cigarettes.
A Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about a day before finding 9-3 in favor of Dylan Boeken. The verdict comes a decade after his father, Richard Boeken, won a $3 billion award against the tobacco giant. He died seven months later of lung cancer.
His son, who was 10 at the time of his father’s death, sought damages for loss of his father’s love, affection, guidance and training. He is now in college.
Boeken’s attorney, Michael Piuze, said that interest on the judgment could eventually bring the award to $19.2 million.
“The Boeken family has been involved in litigation since 1999,” Piuze said. “We don’t believe this is the end, but we hope someday it will come to an end.”
Piuze was referring to his anticipation of an appeal by Philip Morris. A representative of the tobacco company could not be immediately reached.
Boeken declined to comment on the verdict.
His father’s June 2001 award was later cut to $55 million. By the time he died in January 2002, 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, 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 his son’s case only had to decide damages.
In his final argument Monday, 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 time 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.
“Rick was always there for Dylan,” said the attorney, who recommended an award of $22.2 million, representing $1 million for each year Richard Boeken could have expected to live had he not died prematurely.
Attorney Frank Kelly III, on behalf of Philip Morris, countered that any award should be limited to $500,000. He said Dylan Boeken has been a good student and citizen despite his father’s premature death.
“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 and his wife married in January 1981 and waited 10 years to have children because her first marriage ended in divorce and she wanted to make sure her new relationship would last, Piuze said.