FL jury slaps RJ Reynolds $23.6 billion punitive damages for death of smoker

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Miami, FL, United States (4E) – A Florida jury has awarded a smoker’s widow $23.6 billion in punitive damages and $16 million in compensatory damages in her lawsuit against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJRTC).

The Friday verdict of the Escambia County jury awards the damages to Cynthia Robinson and the estate of her late husband, Michael Johnson Sr. Her lawyers argued that RJRTC was negligent in informing consumers of the dangers of consuming tobacco causing her husband to contract lung cancer, which caused his death in 1996.

The second-largest tobacco company in the U.S. producing Camel, Salem and Winston cigarettes sold the products without properly informing them of the hazards, according to Robinson’s lawyer Willie Gary.

Gary said they hope the verdict will force RJRTC and other tobacco companies to stop endangering the lives of innocent people.

RJRTC finds the damages “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law” and will appeal the verdict, said its vice president and assistant general counsel J. Jeffery Raborn.

Robinson filed the suit against RJRTC after the Florida Supreme Court overturned a jury verdict ordering the company to pay $145 billion in damages in a class suit that she joined.

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