Florida jury slams tobacco company with $23.6B in punitive damages in widow’s lawsuit


Locutus
#1
MIAMI – A Florida jury has slammed the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. with $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996.

The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state 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.

Last year, Florida’s highest court re-approved that decision, which made it easier for sick smokers or their survivors to pursue lawsuits against tobacco companies without having to prove to the court again that Big Tobacco knowingly sold dangerous products and hid the hazards of cigarette smoking.

The damages a Pensacola jury awarded Friday to Cynthia Robinson after a four-week trial come in addition to $16.8 million in compensatory damages.

Robinson individually sued Reynolds, the country’s No. 2 cigarette maker, in 2008 on behalf of her late husband, Michael Johnson Sr. Her attorneys said the punitive damages are the largest of any individual case stemming from the original class action lawsuit.

“The jury wanted to send a statement that tobacco cannot continue to lie to the American people and the American government about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes,” said one of the woman’s attorneys, Christopher Chestnut.

Reynolds’ vice-president and assistant general counsel, Jeffery Raborn, called the damages in Robinson’s case “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.”

“This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented,” Raborn said in a statement. “We plan to file post-trial motions with the trial court promptly, and are confident that the court will follow the law and not allow this runaway verdict to stand.”

The lawsuit’s goal was to stop tobacco companies from targeting children and young people with their advertising, said Willie Gary, another attorney representing Robinson.

“If we don’t get a dime, that’s OK, if we can make a difference and save some lives,” Gary said.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court turned away cigarette manufacturers’ appeals of more than $70 million in court judgments to Florida smokers. Reynolds, Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. had wanted the court to review cases in which smokers won large damage awards without having to prove that the companies sold a defective and dangerous product or hid the risks of smoking.
The Supreme Court refused to hear another of the companies’ appeals last year, wanting the court to consider overturning a $2.5 million Tampa jury verdict in the death of a smoker.

Other Florida juries have hit tobacco companies with tens of millions of dollars in punitive damages in lawsuits stemming from the original class action lawsuit.

In August, a Fort Lauderdale jury awarded $37.5 million, including $22.5 million in punitive damages against Reynolds, to the family of a smoker who died at age 38 of lung cancer in 1995.

Attorneys for Reynolds said they would appeal, arguing that the woman knew the dangers of smoking because cigarettes had warning labels when she started. The attorney for the woman’s family said teenagers like her were targeted by tobacco companies.

Some large jury verdicts awarding tens of millions of dollars in damages to relatives of smokers have been upheld by appeals courts.
In September, the 3rd District Court of Appeals affirmed $25 million in punitive damages and $10 million in compensatory damages against Lorillard, the country’s No. 3 cigarette maker, for Dorothy Alexander, whose husband died in 1996 of lung cancer. Lorillard, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, unsuccessfully argued the damages were excessive and raised a number of other claims.

The 1st District Court of Appeals upheld in June 2013 a $20 million punitive damage award to another smoker’s widow, more than a year after reversing a $40.8 million award in the same case against Reynolds. After the appeals court rejected the first award as excessive the award amount was recalculated. The tobacco company still objected.

Philip Morris is the country’s biggest tobacco company and owned by Richmond, Virginia-based Altria Group Inc. Reynolds is owned by Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Reynolds American Inc.


Florida jury slams tobacco company with $23.6B in punitive damages in widow’s lawsuit | 680News (external - login to view)
 
MHz
+1
#2
'cough, cough' tell me more, tell me more 'cough, cough'
 
gopher
+3
#3  Top Rated Post
While it is true that some large judgments have been upheld by appellate courts, others have been tossed. After all most of those judges are Republicans and Rupert Merdedoch is the USA's # 1 tobacco stock holder. Therefore, do not be too surprised when all or a large portion of this award is set aside on appeal.
 
QuebecCanadian
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by LocutusView Post

MIAMI – A Florida jury has slammed the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. with $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996.

The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state 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.

Last year, Florida’s highest court re-approved that decision, which made it easier for sick smokers or their survivors to pursue lawsuits against tobacco companies without having to prove to the court again that Big Tobacco knowingly sold dangerous products and hid the hazards of cigarette smoking.

The damages a Pensacola jury awarded Friday to Cynthia Robinson after a four-week trial come in addition to $16.8 million in compensatory damages.

Robinson individually sued Reynolds, the country’s No. 2 cigarette maker, in 2008 on behalf of her late husband, Michael Johnson Sr. Her attorneys said the punitive damages are the largest of any individual case stemming from the original class action lawsuit.

“The jury wanted to send a statement that tobacco cannot continue to lie to the American people and the American government about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes,” said one of the woman’s attorneys, Christopher Chestnut.

Reynolds’ vice-president and assistant general counsel, Jeffery Raborn, called the damages in Robinson’s case “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.”

“This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented,” Raborn said in a statement. “We plan to file post-trial motions with the trial court promptly, and are confident that the court will follow the law and not allow this runaway verdict to stand.”

The lawsuit’s goal was to stop tobacco companies from targeting children and young people with their advertising, said Willie Gary, another attorney representing Robinson.

“If we don’t get a dime, that’s OK, if we can make a difference and save some lives,” Gary said.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court turned away cigarette manufacturers’ appeals of more than $70 million in court judgments to Florida smokers. Reynolds, Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. had wanted the court to review cases in which smokers won large damage awards without having to prove that the companies sold a defective and dangerous product or hid the risks of smoking.
The Supreme Court refused to hear another of the companies’ appeals last year, wanting the court to consider overturning a $2.5 million Tampa jury verdict in the death of a smoker.

Other Florida juries have hit tobacco companies with tens of millions of dollars in punitive damages in lawsuits stemming from the original class action lawsuit.

In August, a Fort Lauderdale jury awarded $37.5 million, including $22.5 million in punitive damages against Reynolds, to the family of a smoker who died at age 38 of lung cancer in 1995.

Attorneys for Reynolds said they would appeal, arguing that the woman knew the dangers of smoking because cigarettes had warning labels when she started. The attorney for the woman’s family said teenagers like her were targeted by tobacco companies.

Some large jury verdicts awarding tens of millions of dollars in damages to relatives of smokers have been upheld by appeals courts.
In September, the 3rd District Court of Appeals affirmed $25 million in punitive damages and $10 million in compensatory damages against Lorillard, the country’s No. 3 cigarette maker, for Dorothy Alexander, whose husband died in 1996 of lung cancer. Lorillard, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, unsuccessfully argued the damages were excessive and raised a number of other claims.

The 1st District Court of Appeals upheld in June 2013 a $20 million punitive damage award to another smoker’s widow, more than a year after reversing a $40.8 million award in the same case against Reynolds. After the appeals court rejected the first award as excessive the award amount was recalculated. The tobacco company still objected.

Philip Morris is the country’s biggest tobacco company and owned by Richmond, Virginia-based Altria Group Inc. Reynolds is owned by Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Reynolds American Inc.


Florida jury slams tobacco company with $23.6B in punitive damages in widow’s lawsuit | 680News (external - login to view)

Yes they are money-grubbing, sleazy liars but I smoked for 27 years, I won't pretend I didn't know it was a known cause of cancer and COPD.

Uh, unless I can get a million bucks out of it.
 
Sal
+3
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by QuebecCanadianView Post

Yes they are money-grubbing, sleazy liars but I smoked for 27 years, I won't pretend I didn't know it was a known cause of cancer and COPD.

Uh, unless I can get a million bucks out of it.

I was just going to say...if I didn't know, how much is it worth cause I started when it was still thought to be relatively safe

how about my mum didn't know it was unsafe and thus I was poisoned prior to arrival

fetal fumes

how much would that be worth?
 
PoliticalNick
+1
#6
Gotta agree with Gopher. By the time this goes through appeal it will be reduced to $23.6M or less.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by gopherView Post

While it is true that some large judgments have been upheld by appellate courts, others have been tossed. After all most of those judges are Republicans and Rupert Merdedoch is the USA's # 1 tobacco stock holder. Therefore, do not be too surprised when all or a large portion of this award is set aside on appeal.

It's got nothing to do with your paranoid fantasy that judges adhere to party politics, or rather your paranoid fantasies of party politics. In State Farm v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003), the Supreme Court held that punitive damages in excess of ten times compensatory damages are generally forbidden by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

In this case that'd be around 170 mil, max.
 
gopher
+1
#8
Horseshtt.

Even the CONservative Scalia & Thomas said in the Campbell case there was nothing in the Due Process Clause which sets any such limits. Like you I have read the Constitution and see no such language there. Significantly, tobacco stock went up in value and sold more shares after the courts reversed judgment awards in those landmark 2003 & 2006 cases. Small wonder when you consider who is pulling the puppet strings of the courts. Don't want to believe it? That's fine with me. But check the facts and outcomes for yourself and you will see that the wealthy elites will walk away debt free while society pays the welfare bill for all those sickened by tobacco.
 
darkbeaver
#9
tobacco, the base of a good breakfast, tobacco and coffee, a real good breakfast while you drivento sklavery
 
shadowshiv
#10
Why should people be awarded money for something that they knowingly do to themselves? Smoking is bad for you, and if you claim that you didn't know otherwise, you are full of crap. It is a horrible way to die, but no one forced you to smoke for 27 years.

QuebecCanadian, I would like to state that my comment is not directed at you. I thought that the person discussed in the lawsuit itself was the person that had smoked for 27 years, not you.
 
gopher
+2
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by shadowshivView Post

Why should people be awarded money for something that they knowingly do to themselves? Smoking is bad for you, and if you claim that you didn't know otherwise, you are full of crap. It is a horrible way to die, but no one forced you to smoke for 27 years.

QuebecCanadian, I would like to state that my comment is not directed at you. I thought that the person discussed in the lawsuit itself was the person that had smoked for 27 years, not you.


People have been harmed by second hand smoke. They had no choice in getting exposed to harmful fumes from someone's activity. This may include co-workers, children, or passers by in smoking areas in builders. Also consider the matter of strict liability which we have discussed on other threads. If someone is going to profit then that person or industry should be burdened with correcting or alleviating the consequences that arise from that profit making. Otherwise, it is the taxpayer who is stuck with the welfare bill and most folks in this forum already agreed that the public has been burdened with too many taxes.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by gopherView Post

Horseshtt.

Oh, the Court didn't say that? Funny.
 
gopher
+1
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by TecumsehsbonesView Post

Oh, the Court didn't say that? Funny.



If you've read my posts over the years on this forum you know that I don't give a d@mn about the political slant of the Supreme Court. What concerns me is justice and the assurance that everyone enjoys the rights inherited under the Anglo Saxon common law. Since you purport to be a lawyer, you know fully well of the old law of Tort & strict liability. Nothing that our Founding Fathers wrote into the Constitution limits product liability. Nor is there any language in that document which indicates that due process is violated when injuries are redressed by juries. Of course, there are certain people who demands limits on judicial awards. Most of these are people who are paid off by manufacturers and others intent upon profiting from the sale of junk or hazardous stuff. Many get injured by this garbage and profiteers walk away laughing all the way to the bank as aggrieved people wallow in hospitals or death beds without the means to pay their medical costs. That's when the taxpayers who had nothing to do with the sale of garbage such as bad foods or other junk are stuck with the welfare bill for the costs created by those manufacturers.
 
Ludlow
+1
#14
If you know that what you produce is harming people and you continue to do so your nothing more than garbage.
 
gopher
+1
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by LudlowView Post

If you know that what you produce is harming people and you continue to do so your nothing more than garbage.



Strict liability defined:


Strict Liability

In both tort (external - login to view) and criminal law (external - login to view), strict liability exists when a defendant is in legal jeopardy by virtue of an wrongful act, without any accompanying intent or mental state. In criminal law, possession crimes and statutory rape are both examples of strict liability offences.
In tort, there are two broad categories of activities for which a plaintiff may be held strictly liable - possession of certain animals and abnormally dangerous activities (external - login to view). Additionally, in the area of torts known as products liability (external - login to view), there is a sub-category known as strict products liability which applies when a defective product for which an appropriate defendant holds responsibility causes injury to an appropriate plaintiff.


Strict Liability | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia | LII / Legal Information Institute (external - login to view)






Products liability

products liability law: an overview

Products liability refers to the liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any product for damage (external - login to view) caused by that product. This includes the manufacturer of component parts (at the top of the chain), an assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retail store owner (at the bottom of the chain). Products containing inherent defects that cause harm to a consumer of the product, or someone to whom the product was loaned, given, etc., are the subjects of products liability suits.

Products liability claims can be based on negligence (external - login to view), strict liability (external - login to view), or breach of warranty of fitness depending on the jurisdiction within which the claim is based.



Products liability | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia | LII / Legal Information Institute (external - login to view)







The laws which govern these matters have been in the books since time immemorial. Under the common law it was up to juries to determine the extent of damages caused by products and it was also up to them to determine the proper awards for compensation as was as punitive measures. Nothing in the Constitution indicates that jury awards are violative of a producer's due process rights.

For decades cigarette manufacturers made untold BILLIONS in profits. They occasionally engaged in public niceties such as creating a school like Duke University to promote public relations. Meantime, they pocketed all that wealth as people got sick or died with taxpayers paying the welfare bill for the damage caused by these murders who killed many more people than did Saddam Hussein, Suharto, and Rios-Montt combined. It is time for these death mongering profiteers to pay for the damage they have done.
 
darkbeaver
#16
The Tabasco lawsuit? How can they procedem this sauce has hARMWD NO ONE.
 
Tecumsehsbones
+1
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by gopherView Post

If you've read my posts over the years on this forum you know that I don't give a d@mn about the political slant of the Supreme Court. What concerns me is justice

Defined as "what gopher thinks should be."

To quote the former Veep, "Go f*ck yourself." Justice is a term without a definition or any possible application. I agree with you a fair amount of the time, goph, but when you get on your high horse, you're as irritating and irrational as Colpy.
 
gopher
+1
#18
Horseshtt again buddy.

Justice as defined by the jury - that's the only thing that matters so long as it is within the law.
 
WLDB
#19
While true that smokers do it to themselves these days I must say I don't have much sympathy for companies that knowingly produce a product which poisons and kills its customers. Do they really expect no one will go after them?
 
Praxius
+1
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by QuebecCanadianView Post

.... Uh, unless I can get a million bucks out of it.

Exactly man.... keep on smoking.

In fact, everybody should start smoking right now.... that way our families will be set for life when we die.

Quote: Originally Posted by shadowshivView Post

Why should people be awarded money for something that they knowingly do to themselves? Smoking is bad for you, and if you claim that you didn't know otherwise, you are full of crap. It is a horrible way to die, but no one forced you to smoke for 27 years.

What if you started when you were just a kid due to peer pressure? You didn't know better and now you're addicted.

Stick your hand out and ask for a few million for your troubles.... what's the problem?

If my Charlie Sheen avatar didn't make the perfect statement before, it sure does now.

*Smoking a big Cigar with "Winning" right below*

.... Damn right... Winning a Fk'Tonne of money!
 
Tecumsehsbones
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by gopherView Post

Horseshtt again buddy.

Justice as defined by the jury - that's the only thing that matters so long as it is within the law.

Funny, I just finished reading a newspaper story bout a guy who's just been let out of prison after 26 years of justice a jury gave him. Turns out he was innocent.

According to you he should still be in.

And "within the law?" By law, what the Supreme Court says is law, is law. Even when you don't agree.

But I urge you to nail your flag to the mast and refuse any deal or compromise with those slimy fascist bastards (whoever the slimy fascist bastards are this week). I calculate it's a good thing for the country when wingnuts scream past each other. Rest of us can get on with our lives without more government "help."
 
gopher
+1
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by TecumsehsbonesView Post

Funny, I just finished reading a newspaper story bout a guy who's just been let out of prison after 26 years of justice a jury gave him. Turns out he was innocent.

According to you he should still be in.

And "within the law?" By law, what the Supreme Court says is law, is law. Even when you don't agree.

But I urge you to nail your flag to the mast and refuse any deal or compromise with those slimy fascist bastards (whoever the slimy fascist bastards are this week). I calculate it's a good thing for the country when wingnuts scream past each other. Rest of us can get on with our lives without more government "help."




Like I wrote in the other thread, you've been drinking from the same spiked up trough Dark Beaver has been using.

We had a discussion about an innocent who was released and I clearly stated my support for this innocent victim. Do yourself a favor and just tick to the issues.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by gopherView Post

Like I wrote in the other thread, you've been drinking from the same spiked up trough Dark Beaver has been using.

We had a discussion about an innocent who was released and I clearly stated my support for this innocent victim. Do yourself a favor and just tick to the issues.

How does that square with "justice as defined by the jury?" Jury found him guilty.
 
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