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

(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.

In this Feb. 6, 2008 photo, a smokestack of an old RJ Reynolds Tobacco plant frames the Reynolds American building in Winston-Salem, NC.
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)
Camel, a Reynolds American brand, is arranged for a photo Tuesday, July 15, 2014 in Philadelphia.
Camel, a Reynolds American brand, is arranged for a photo Tuesday, July 15, 2014 in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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