Widow Awarded $23.6 Billion in Smoking Case

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A woman has won $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a case against tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Cynthia Robinson made a case against the company over the death of her husband, Michael Johnson.

Robinson argued in the case that the company was negligent in telling her husband that nicotine has addictive qualities and that smoking could lead to lung cancer. Johnson took up smoking at 13 years old. He died of lung cancer when he was 36 years old.

A Florida jury deliberated for 15 hours on the case. Part of what swayed the jury was demonstrating just how different the tobacco industry presented cigarettes before public ad campaigns were presented to raise awareness in the 1990s.

Vice president and assistant general counsel for R.J. Reynolds, J. Jeffery Raborn, commented on the ruling, saying the damages awarded were grossly excessive and illegal under state and constitutional law.

Details courtesy of CNN, photo courtesy of The Guardian