US widow awarded €17bn in damages from tobacco company

US widow awarded €17bn in damages from tobacco company

America’s second biggest cigarette maker has vowed to fight a Florida jury verdict of $23.6bn (€17.4bn) in punitive damages in a case filed by the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

RJ Reynolds Tobacco executive J Jeffery Raborn said the damages awarded yesterday to widow Cynthia Robinson by a Pensacola jury are “grossly excessive” and Reynolds will appeal.

But Ms Robinson’s lawyer Christopher Chestnut said the award sends a powerful message to tobacco companies that they “cannot continue to lie... about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes”.

The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 threw out a $145bn (€107.2bn) class action verdict.

Ms Robinson individually sued Reynolds in 2008. Her husband died in 1996.

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