RJ Reynolds Hit for $23.6B in Smoking Lawsuit
Lawyer: Jury message is 'tobacco cannot continue to lie to the American people'
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2014 8:40 AM CDT
In this Feb. 6, 2008 photo, a smokestack of an old RJ Reynolds Tobacco plant frames the Reynolds American building in Winston-Salem, NC.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

(Newser) – RJ Reynolds is about $23.6 billion poorer after a Florida jury awarded a widow a whopping $23.6 billion in damages over her husband's death from lung cancer. As the Pensacola News Journal notes, it's one of the largest verdicts ever against a tobacco company, and a Reynolds exec tells the AP that the company will fight the "grossly excessive" award. "This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented," he said.

"They'll appeal because they always appeal, that's the attitude they have," said a lawyer for widow Cynthia Robinson, whose husband, a longtime smoker, died in 1996. "But no matter how the ball bounces with the appeal, it's not the money that's important in this case." Robinson's suit is among thousands of individual lawsuits filed after Florida's Supreme Court threw out a $145 billion class-action settlement in 2006. The award comes as Reynolds this week announced it was acquiring Lorillard in a $27 billion deal.

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Jul 21, 2014 9:52 AM CDT
I am waiting for the mother of all lawsuits. The U.S. government is the largest beneficiary of the tobacco industry. They are the largest recipient of largess from the sales of tobacco. They are the ones which declared tobacco to be a poison. They are the authors of the warning labels on every pack. Yet they are the ones who have refused to outlaw tobacco for the sole reason that they receive billions of dollars from the sale of this self declared poison. They are hooked on the tobacco teat and they are not about to let go. The lawsuit against the government would be in the trillions of dollars as a class action lawsuit. Oh, yeah, you can't sue the government unless they allow you to. Fancy that.
Jul 21, 2014 9:47 AM CDT
This will be thrown out as jury activism. Even Bill Gates' life is not worth that much let alone some loser who didn't have enough sense to realize that smoking was bad for his health. No one can tell me he never heard the terms "cancer sticks", "coffin nails", or the song "Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette." Wait until the good widow gets the tax bill for that amount from the IRS. Taxes on punitive damages are due and payable immediately even if they are not actually received. Her lawyers will want their 33 1/3% as well.
K Hoff
Jul 21, 2014 9:37 AM CDT
This is great, but my don't we start targeting Big Pharma, Food Industry, GMO Food Co's. and FDA. I'm sure they kill many more today than the tobacco Co's. At least we've known the truth about smoking for the past 30+ years.