Tobacco company ordered to pay $23B in damages

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company ordered to pay more than $23 billion in damages to Cynthia Robinson.
By Danielle Haynes  |  July 19, 2014 at 6:50 PM
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PENSACOLA, Fla., July 19 (UPI) -- A Florida jury ruled Friday R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company must pay more than $23 billion in damages in one of the largest verdicts ever against a tobacco company.

The company must pay Cynthia Robinson, of Pensacola, more than $16 million in compensatory damages and $23 billion in punitive damages due to the death of her husband, Michael Johnson Sr.

Willie Gary, trial attorney, argued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco withheld information regarding the negative effects of smoking, leading to Johnson's death from lung cancer in 1996.

"I think the jury wanted to make a difference," Gary said. "All the cards were put on the table to show how the tobacco industry lied and failed to disclose information that could have saved lives, and that's what the jury ruled on in this case."

"That's a long journey to justice," he added. "They'll appeal because they always appeal, that's the attitude they have. But no matter how the ball bounces with the appeal, it's not the money that's important in this case."

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