Florida Jury Rules: RJ Reynolds Should Pay $23B To Widow Of Smoker
With its huge award, the case is certain to be appealed.
The Associated Press: RJ Reynolds Vows To Fight $23.6B In Damages
The nation’s No. 2 cigarette maker is vowing to fight a jury verdict of $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. executive J. Jeffery Raborn has called the damages awarded by a Pensacola jury “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law” (7/20).
The New York Times: Jury Awards $23.6 Billion In Florida Smoking Case
A jury in northwestern Florida awarded a staggering $23 billion judgment late Friday against the country’s second-largest tobacco company for causing the death of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer at the age of 36. The company, the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, promised a prompt appeal. Michael Johnson Sr. died in 1996 after smoking for more than 20 years (Robles, 7/19).
USA Today: Jury Hits Tobacco Company R.J. Reynolds With $23B Verdict
The jury in the case Cynthia Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company sided Friday night with Robinson, the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996, to award her more than $16 million in compensatory damages and $23 billion in punitive damages. Following a nearly four-week trial, the jury deliberated for 15 hours to eventually determine that the tobacco company was negligent in informing Robinson's husband, Michael Johnson Sr., that smoking causes lung cancer and that nicotine is highly addictive (Isern, 7/19).
The Washington Post: Florida Jury Slams R.J. Reynolds With $23.6 Billion In Damages
The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion class-action verdict. That ruling also said smokers and their families need only prove addiction and that smoking caused their illnesses or deaths. Last year, Florida’s highest court reapproved that decision (Kay, 7/19).