A Florida Widow Wins $23.6 Billion Lawsuit Against Tobacco Company

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By Afza Fathima | July 25, 2014 4:10 PM EST

A widow from Florida, Cynthia Robinson, won $23.6 billion in a lawsuit against the second-largest tobacco company in the United Stated, R.J. Reynolds.

Reuters
Clinical lead Doctor Al Story points to an x-ray showing a pair of lungs infected with tuberculosis during an interview with Reuters on board the mobile X-ray unit screening for TB in Ladbroke Grove in London, January 27, 2014.

Michael Johnson, Cynthia's husband, passed away at the age of 36 as he was suffering from lung cancer. She filed a lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds that although they were aware of the fact the cigarette smoking was addictive and that it lead to lung cancer, they were negligent to make the risks known to the smokers. 

At the young age of 13, Johnson had gotten addicted to smoking cigarettes and smoked nearly three packs a day. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1995, a year before he died. While trying to give up smoking on several occassions, he remained unsuccessful. 

Ten years after his death, Cynthia slapped the lawsuit on R.J. Reynolds. Cynthia's victory came  on July 18. She exclaimed that it was time that they received justice and even if she has to keep fighting, she will, for her husband and for all those who died because of lung cancer. This verdict has created a powerful message against tobacco companies.

Willie E Gary, Cynthia's attorney, had expected this amount and more as Johnson, from when he was a teenager, had started smoking and was unaware of its risk. Even in this day, he added, that the industry marketed the products and targetted it at young children, and they did not care about the health and safety of the people but just concentrated on making profits.

The vice president and assistant general counsel of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, J. Jeffery Raborn, has said that the jury has slapped on his damages that are impermissible under state and constitutional law. He explained that it is unreasonable and unfair and that the verdict doesn't coincide with the evidence that was present. The company plans to appeal the verdict with the hope that the amount of damages will be lowered.

Another attorney of Cynthia, Christopher Chestnut, explained that the verdict has sent a statement that the industry cannot continue lying to the people about the chemicals and the addictive factor that cigarettes bring in.

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(Photo: Reuters / Luke MacGregor)
Clinical lead Doctor Al Story points to an x-ray showing a pair of lungs infected with tuberculosis during an interview with Reuters on board the mobile X-ray unit screening for TB in Ladbroke Grove in London, January 27, 2014.
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