A Florida jury has awarded Cynthia Robinson, the widow of a smoker, a brain-staggering $23.6 billion in punitive damages in her case against R.J. Reynolds, which makes the Kool brand that her husband preferred. Michael Johnson Sr. is said to have begun smoking at age 13. From the New York Times:
The four-week trial ended Wednesday. The jury deliberated for 18 hours over two days, first awarding $17 million in compensatory damages and then emerging at 10 p.m. Friday with a $23.6 billion punitive judgment.
“When they first read the verdict, I know I heard ‘million,’ and I got so excited,” Ms. Robinson said in a phone interview Saturday. “Then the attorney informed me that was a ‘B’ — billion. It was just unbelievable.”
The tobacco company will, not surprisingly, appeal. A 2002 judgment of $28 billion against Phillip Morris USA in a Los Angeles case was reduced on appeal to $28 million in 2011.
Said Robinson to the Times, of her husband:
“He really did smoke a lot.”
I suppose he did. I suppose he did.