The Florida Supreme Court has struck down a $16 million punitive damages award in a wrongful death case, concluding that the award was out of sync with the jury’s compensatory damages award of just $150,000.

In a Jan. 5 ruling in the case of Brinda Coates vs. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the high court said trial courts abuse their discretion when they reject a party’s request to reduce punitive damages awards which appear unreasonable when compared with compensatory damages and the plaintiff’s injury.

In turn, the state Supreme Court affirmed a state appeals court’s ruling in the case, in which R.J. Reynolds was accused of being partly liable for the death of Coates’ sister, Lois Stucky, as a result of Stucky’s use of the company’s tobacco products.