published Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Jury awards $23 billion damages to widow of Florida smoker

  • photo
    A smokestack of an old R.J. Reynolds Tobacco plant frames the Reynolds American building in Winston-Salem, N.C., in this 2008 photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

MIAMI —  A Florida jury has slammed R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. with $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

A Pensacola jury awarded the damages Friday to Cynthia Robinson after a four-week trial, along with $16.8 million in compensatory damages.

Robinson individually sued Reynolds in 2008 on behalf of her late husband.

Reynolds' vice president and assistant general counsel Jeffery Raborn called the damages "grossly excessive" and vowed the company would appeal.

Robinson's case is one of thousands filed in the state after the Florida Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion class action verdict.

That ruling also said smokers and their families need only prove addiction and that smoking caused their illnesses or deaths.

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