Florida Jury Awards Woman $23.6 Billion In Smoking Lawsuit

A Florida jury awarded a widow $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

The woman, Cynthia Robinson, claimed that the tobacco giant killed her husband (who died of lung cancer in 1996) because it neglected to be informative that cigarettes contained harmful ingredients that could cause cancer. Her husband, Michael Johnson, died at the age of 36 and had started smoking when he was 13 years old.

He really did smoke a lot,” Robinson told The New York Times about her late husband’s chain-smoking habits.

Vice president and assistant general counsel for R.J. Reynolds, J. Jeffery Raborn, released a statement in response to the jury’s verdict calling the damages awarded “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.”

This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented,” Raborn said in the statement. “We plan to file post-trial motions with the trial court promptly and are confident that the court will follow the law and not allow this runaway verdict to stand.”