Jury Awards Widow $23.6 Billion in Florida Smoking Case
For the NY Times, Frances Robles reports: 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.
“When they first read the verdict, I know I heard ‘million,’ and I got so excited. Then the attorney informed me that was a ‘B’ — billion. It was just unbelievable.”
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. In 2006, his widow, Cynthia Robinson, of Pensacola, sued R. J. Reynolds the maker of the Kool brand cigarettes her husband had smoked, arguing that the company had deliberately concealed the health hazards its product caused.
“He really did smoke a lot.”
The four-week trial ended Wednesday. The jury deliberated for 18 hours over two days, first awarding $17 million in compensatory damages and then emerging at 10 p.m. Friday with a $23.6 billion punitive judgment. Read the rest of this entry »