Jurors decided not to order Procter & Gamble to pay punitive damages in the toxic shock death of an Iowa woman because they feared the precedent would bankrupt the giant company, a panelist said.
The Cincinnati-based firm was ordered to pay $300,000 in compensatory damages to the estate of Patricia Kehm, 25, the mother of two who died in September, 1980, four days after first using Rely tampons, which have been linked with toxic shock syndrome.
Kehm's widower, Michael, 29, had sought at least $30 million.
But juror Betty Beauregard said Thursday that P&G officials are mistaken if they think the verdict was a vindication of the company's handling of Rely.
"We had sympathy for P&G," she said in an interview with United Press International. "They've got 400 cases coming up against them, so we went easy on them. I wish they'd talked to some of the jury before they shot their mouths off. We thought if everybody hits them with millions of dollars, they're going to be a broke firm."
P&G representatives hailed Wednesday's jury verdict as a vindication of the company's reputation, but said they were disappointed because Rely tampons were not cleared as a cause of Kehm's death.
P&G attorney Frank Woodside said the lack of punitive damages showed that the company did nothing wrong. He said the jury awarded compensatory damages because they felt sorry for Kehm's husband and two daughters.