Due to a ruling by a jury in Florida, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company will pay $23.6 billion to a woman whose husband died of lung cancer. The company is the second largest cigarette maker in the United States. The woman’s husband, who died in 1996, was a regular smoker, and one of her attorneys said that tobacco companies have told lies about the dangers of their products.
In 2013, Reynolds was ordered to pay $22.5 million in punitive damages after a jury in Florida decided in favor of the family of a woman who died from lung cancer. Other lawsuits against large tobacco companies have also been decided in the favor of smokers or their families, and appeals courts have upheld the rulings. In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that smokers or their families do not have to prove that tobacco companies distributed a harmful or defective product in order to file a suit.
An assistant general counsel for Reynolds made a statement saying that the decision was unfair and goes against the law. The company plans on fighting to overturn it in court. One of the woman’s attorney’s said that the goal of suit was to help prevent tobacco companies from targeting sales toward young adults and children.
Filing a personal injury or wrongful death suit is a way for an injured person or their family to gain financial compensation when a person is harmed by dangerous or defective products. Through such actions, those who have been negatively affected might be able to recover the costs associated with treating the injuries caused by the product. In some cases, the courts might also award a plaintiff punitive damages at the end of a trial.
Source: The Washington Post, “Florida jury slams R.J. Reynolds with $23.6 billion in damages“, Jennifer Kay, July 19, 2014