Hess v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.Annotate this Case
As surviving spouse of Stuart Hess and personal representative of his estate, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Philip Morris USA (Defendant), asserting claims of fraudulent concealment and alleging that Mr. Hess detrimentally relied on and dried as a proximate result of Defendants’ fraud. A jury entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff and awarded both compensatory and punitive damages. Defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law on the fraudulent concealment claim, arguing that it did not defraud Mr. Hess within the twelve-year fraud statute of repose period. The trial court denied the motion. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed for entry of judgment in Defendant’s favor on the fraudulent concealment claim and punitive damages award, concluding that the fraudulent concealment claim and punitive damages award were foreclosed by the statute of repose because Defendant did not defraud Mr. Hess within the repose period. The Supreme Court quashed the Fourth District’s decision and reinstated the jury verdict, holding that Defendant was precluded as a matter of law from raising the fraud statute of repose defense to Plaintiff’s fraudulent concealment claim.