Reynolds American's (NYSE:RAI) subsidiary, R.J. Reynolds, has been slammed with $23.6B in punitive damages and $16.8M in compensatory damages from a lawsuit filed by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer.
The lawsuit was filed six years ago after a Florida Supreme Court ruling stated that smokers and their families need only prove that addiction and smoking caused their illnesses or deaths to be eligible for damage payments.
The record ruling was re-approved last year, making it easier for sick smokers and their survivors to sue tobacco companies, and triggered thousands of new court cases.
R.J. Reynolds VP and assistant general counsel J. Jeffery Raborn intends to fight the verdict, calling it grossly excessive and unconstitutional. "This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented," says Raborn. "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."