In a fascinating ruling, a Florida jury has just awarded the widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer 18 years ago more than $23 billion against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. These are punitive damages and represent the largest award given in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a single plaintiff.
Cynthia Robinson sued RJ Reynolds in 2008 saying that the company conspired to conceal the health dangers of their product. Her husband died of lung cancer in 1996 at the age of 36, having smoked one to three packs a day for more than 20 years.
The jury awarded $7.3 million to the widow and the couple’s child and $9.6 million to another son of Johnson’s. They then awarded $23.6 billion in punitive damages.
Of course, J. Jeffery Raborn, vp and assistant general counsel for RJ Reynolds, said that they plan to challenge “this runaway verdict.”