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. (Read more cigarettes stories.)