RJ Reynolds ordered to pay Robinson $25 billion

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http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/...z-1226995889539

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A CIGARETTE giant in the US has vowed to fight a jury verdict ordering the company to pay $25.5 billion in punitive damages to Cynthia Robinson, the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer.
Yesterday, a Florida jury ordered tobacco company RJ Reynolds to pay the sum, in addition to more than $17 million in compensation to the estate of Michael Johnson Sr, after 15 hours of deliberations. It’s the largest verdict for a plaintiff in state history and sends a strong message to Big Tobacco that could open the floodgates for further claims.
During the four-week trial lawyers for Cynthia Robinson argued RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company was negligent in informing consumers of the dangers of consuming tobacco and thus led to her late husband Johnson contracting lung cancer from smoking cigarettes. They said Johnson had become “addicted” to cigarettes and failed multiple attempts to quit smoking.
“RJ Reynolds took a calculated risk by manufacturing cigarettes and selling them to consumers without properly informing them of the hazards,” 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.”
The tobacco company has hit back at the verdict, with RJ Reynolds vice president and assistant general counsel J Jeffery Raborn saying it was “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,” Mr Raborn said.
“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 case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 threw out a $154 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.

Robinson individually sued Reynolds in 2008 on behalf of her late husband, Michael Johnson Sr, who died in 1996. Her attorneys said the punitive damages are the largest of any individual case stemming from the original class action lawsuit.
The verdict came the same week that Reynolds American Inc, which owns R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, announced it was purchasing Lorillard Tobacco Co, the country’s No. 3 cigarette maker, in a $26 billion deal. That would create a tobacco company second only in the U.S. to Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc, which owns Philip Morris USA Inc and is based in Richmond, Virginia.
The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2015 and likely will face regulatory scrutiny.
Anti-smoking advocates hailed the verdict as a reminder of what they called the tobacco industry’s history of marketing to children and hiding the truth about their products.
“Wall Street analysts like to say the industry’s liability risk is manageable. What this verdict shows is the tobacco industry’s risk is far greater than Wall Street analysts would lead investors believe,” said Vince Willmore, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.


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“This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented,” Mr Raborn said.

In other words, we didn't budget for this, but we're not sorry we make coffin nails. Our actuaries put a price on human life, and this ain't it.
 
$25 Billion for "1" Life??

If that's the case, OMG, there's not enough money in the World!!
 
An outlandish verdict, but I'm glad to see big corporations getting handed some blatantly absurd treatment. Normally, it's the other way around.
 
That's insane.

Doesn't it tell you on the package that it is going to cause cancer? Shouldn't that be enough for those who choose to give themself cancer?
 
Originally Posted By: Miller88
That's insane.

Doesn't it tell you on the package that it is going to cause cancer? Shouldn't that be enough for those who choose to give themself cancer?


I'm guessing this may refer to decades ago when the deceased started smoking. There was no labeling, or one could argue, very inadequate labeling, that indicated just how deadly smoking was. That's my take on it, anyway.
 
Change RJ for McDonalds, Burger King, Kraft Foods, etc

Change cigarette for transfat


Change RJ for Monsanto

Change cigarette for chemical of choice sprayed on crops we eat
 
Originally Posted By: niero
Originally Posted By: Miller88
That's insane.

Doesn't it tell you on the package that it is going to cause cancer? Shouldn't that be enough for those who choose to give themself cancer?


I'm guessing this may refer to decades ago when the deceased started smoking. There was no labeling, or one could argue, very inadequate labeling, that indicated just how deadly smoking was. That's my take on it, anyway.


That is how I read the reasoning of the judgement. Because decades ago the labels saying this will kill you weren't there.

Because inhaling anything other than oxygen is good for you...
 
Originally Posted By: tstep
Change RJ for McDonalds, Burger King, Kraft Foods, etc

Change cigarette for transfat

Change RJ for Monsanto

Change cigarette for chemical of choice sprayed on crops we eat



Very true, and I partially agree. OTOH, why is it okay for these corporations to poison us? Yes, we have to take responsibility for our choices, and a lot of people don't do that, or investigate what is/isn't healthy.

But if companies aren't taken to task for dumping toxins into the food chain or spraying crops with chemicals that are known to be very harmful, how will things change?
There has to be consequences for bad behavior, whether by individuals, politicians, corporations, or any other entity in society. It's not about what's right, reasonable, or rational. It's what you can get away with.
 
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The warnings were there they were just ignored. In the 60's and 70's they had warnings during tv commercials. Also in magazines. Remember the one with John Wayne in it? Long before the FDA, mid 60's, came out with their warning cigarettes were nicknamed 'coffin nails'.

So if ignore all that and continue to smoke who's fault is it?
 
Who's fault is it?


Since the government collects taxes on every pack of cigarettes sold should they also have some culpability?
 
Originally Posted By: tstep
Change RJ for McDonalds, Burger King, Kraft Foods, etc

Change cigarette for transfat


Change RJ for Monsanto

Change cigarette for chemical of choice sprayed on crops we eat


Please study some chemistry before making uneducated statements.
 
Originally Posted By: MolaKule
Originally Posted By: tstep
Change RJ for McDonalds, Burger King, Kraft Foods, etc

Change cigarette for transfat

Change RJ for Monsanto

Change cigarette for chemical of choice sprayed on crops we eat


Please study some chemistry before making uneducated statements.


Could you clarify what you mean? I'm not following. Do you mean, cigarettes are more, or less, harmful than trans fats, chemicals by Monsanto, etc.?

How does a knowledge of chemistry inform your opinion of the lawsuit?
 
A sad indictment of the current state of our society. Anyone who is even moderately educated knows that smoking is unhealthy. The science has been out there for many decades.

This whole lack of personal responsibility [censored] is getting out of hand. If you smoke you're likely to get lung cancer, if you eat too much you're likely to get fat. I'm waiting for someone to sue Coke/Pepsi for causing they're Diabetes. Absolutely absurd.
 
The apparently uneducated statement was to merely induce the thought process of how many parallels can be twisted into a conceivably arguable litigious scenario similar and following the same logic as the RJ case.

I cannot take a stance for or against the decision as I abhor many disgusting business practices that are allowed to flourish unfettered under the watchful eye of this country's many regulatory agencies nor will I condone unrestrained personal actions or choice as the responsibility of others when the outcome heads south then reward such actions.
 
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