UK & World News

  • 20 July 2014, 19:26

Widow Of Chain Smoker Gets $23.6bn Payout

The widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer has been awarded $23.6bn (14bn) in compensation from the company who made his cigarettes.

Cynthia Robinson took action against RJ Reynolds Tobacco, makers of Camel and Winston cigarettes, after her husband, Michael Johnson, died in 1996 aged 36.

During the four-week trial, lawyers for Ms Robinson argued that RJ Reynolds was negligent in informing consumers of the dangers of tobacco and thus led to Mr Johnson contracting lung cancer from smoking cigarettes.

They said Mr Johnson had become "addicted" to cigarettes and failed multiple attempts to quit smoking.

The Escambia County, Florida, jury returned its verdict after some 15 hours of deliberations.

"RJ Reynolds took a calculated risk by manufacturing cigarettes and selling them to consumers without properly informing them of the hazards," Ms Robinson's lawyer Willie Gary said in a statement.

"As a result of their negligence, my client's husband suffered from lung cancer and eventually lost his life.

"We hope that this verdict will send a message to RJ Reynolds and other big tobacco companies that will force them to stop putting the lives of innocent people in jeopardy."

RJ Reynolds plans to appeal the court decision and verdict.

A spokesman for the company said the landmark award was "far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness".

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