RJ Reynolds told to pay wife of cancer victim $23.6bn

 

Ms Robinson argued that RJ Reynolds was negligent in informing consumers of the dangers of consuming tobacco.

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A US court has ordered the country's second largest cigarette company to pay $23.6 billion (£13.8bn) to the wife of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company was hit with the punitive fine in addition to $16.8m (£9.8m) in compensatory damages.

Cynthia Robinson took action against the firm in 2008, seeking compensation for her husband's death in 1996.

A company official said the verdict was ``grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.''

During the four-week trial, lawyers for Ms Robinson argued that RJ Reynolds was negligent in informing consumers of the dangers of consuming tobacco.

This negligence, the lawyers said, led to her husband Michael Johnson Sr contracting lung cancer from smoking after becoming "addicted" and failing multiple attempts to quit.

'A message for tobacco firms'

"RJ Reynolds took a calculated risk by manufacturing cigarettes and selling them to consumers without properly informing them of the hazards," Ms Robinson's lawyer Willie Gary said.

"We hope that this verdict will send a message to RJ Reynolds and other big tobacco companies that will force them to stop putting the lives of innocent people in jeopardy," he added.

RJ Reynolds plans to appeal against the court's decision, vice president and assistant general counsel Jeffery Raborn said in a statement.

"This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented," he said.

``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.''

The punitive damages awarded to Ms Robinson were said to be the largest of any individual case stemming from a class action lawsuit filed in Florida.

Several similar cases have resulted in smaller payouts after the state's highest court ruled that smokers and their families only had to prove addiction and that smoking caused their illness.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 799.

    770 Havoc

    #How much monetary value do you put on your life or the life of a loved one? Its not too much#

    It is obscenely too much. Even pretending the Co. has any responsibility, no one is worth tens of thousands let alone tens of billions. You want cash for death you insure the lives relevant yourself.

    How much are you insured for so your relatives gain, that is what you value yourself worth.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 798.

    Rather misleading story, the $23 billion will never be paid out, there'll be appeal after appeal and they'll probably end up paying out something like $25m including the compensatory $16.8m. The punitive damages in a US court are plucked out of thin air by the members of the jury as a figure they believe will punish the company (while $16.8m is a tiny fraction of their annual turnover).

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 797.

    If the product was sold legally, taxes were paid on it, and wasn't defective (eg 100x too strong), what law has been broken?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 796.

    It requires some kind of class legislation to regulate the awards in such lawsuits.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 795.

    790.Jezza
    2 Minutes ago
    766. CURTAINS 2012

    What is it that makes foil of tin so significant to some people on here?

    ___

    It's what lines the cigarette packs, innit. Also, for heroin addicts it doubles as a spoon or they use it when smoking heroin. MacGyver could probably build a plane out of a cigarette pack.

    +++

    Why do they use tin foil in preference to the cheaper Al foil?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 794.

    785. CURTAINS 2012

    777.imemomeme
    2 Minutes ago
    --
    I am sure i was followed from saincos, whilst fashioning aerials from my latest purchase, by a man smoking marlboro. I was going to say CAMEL, but that would have spoilt the ambience of my comment.

    +++

    From what were you manufacturing them?
    --
    Freezer bags cunningly disguised of course. There are no fleas on me, unless they are nanobots.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 793.

    Churchill was a heavy drinker and a very heavy smoker. Hitler did neither of those, but rather behaved badly. Hehehe!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 792.

    The " he knew what he was doing" argument is patently absurd when precisely the same principle applies to the tobacco company.
    The amount is excessive but maybe it will give cause for those peddling the poison to ponder...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 791.

    760.English Pensioner
    21 Minutes ago

    Back in about 1948, ... , I can remember my mother telling her brother, who had what was even then known as a "smokers' cough", that he'd kill himself if he went on smoking.

    +++

    Even as a lad in the early 1950s, I knew that my dad's smoking was bad for him. That's why I put a small quantity of explosive into one of his Woodbines to discourage him.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 790.

    766. CURTAINS 2012

    What is it that makes foil of tin so significant to some people on here?

    ___

    It's what lines the cigarette packs, innit. Also, for heroin addicts it doubles as a spoon or they use it when smoking heroin. MacGyver could probably build a plane out of a cigarette pack.

    """"

    @ 783. Bloodpressure : go and demonstrate. HYS has no impact on anything whatsoever.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 789.

    760. English Pensioner
    "No intelligent person can claim that they did not know the risks of smoking.
    .. sixty plus years ago, I can remember my mother telling ... that he'd kill himself if he went on smoking.... people were aware of what might happen,"

    Hmm who to believe - your mums opinion or the allegedly scientifically backed advertising onslaught by the industry. They lied and must pay.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 788.

    I'm hoping to take similar action against the manufacturers of Ginsters Pasties.

    They've ruined my life, but they taste sooooo good.
    Nowhere on the packet does it say that a diet exclusively of pasties is bad for your health and I'm now facing my fifth heart attack.
    I tried my first pasty at 13 and I've not looked back since.

    Please, law lords, save me from this evil and get me some compo.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 787.

    About time too. Well sued. Welcome to Hell drug companies'. The door is now open...

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 786.

    Only in America could there be so bizarre and ridiculous a judgement. Unless the deceased, family and friends were truly stupid/"challenged" could they claim to be unaware of the dangers of smoking over the last 30 years.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 785.

    777.imemomeme
    2 Minutes ago
    --
    I am sure i was followed from saincos, whilst fashioning aerials from my latest purchase, by a man smoking marlboro. I was going to say CAMEL, but that would have spoilt the ambience of my comment.

    +++

    From what were you manufacturing them?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 784.

    We all know the risk of speed on roads, but that does not mean that we should not have speed limits.

    We all know that some sellers would try and sell us underweight items but it does not stop us buying.

    Why do we get concerned when we hear 'pensioner conned out of life savings'. Shouldn't they have known.

    When are children old enough to make the choice to become addicted.

    Libor? Forex? PPI?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 783.

    773 Jezza

    How do you know until you have heard comments. The current situation isn't working is it? What harm can people's comments make on a situation that is supposed to be helped, yet failing, by so-called peace brokers?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 782.

    I don't smoke but I believe smoking is good for you, keep on

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 781.

    776.JamesStGeorge
    1 Minute ago
    Manufactures of cars have probably killed more people, let's sue them too! Selling dangerous devices. People come dependant on cars, addicted to them.

    +++

    Then show us your data to prove your point.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 780.

    So they're 'drug dealers'. Correct, but irrelevant and a knee-jerk soundbite.

    So what about your local pharmacy then? Off licence? Hospital..

 

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