Update: Tobacco Company Plans To Fight $23.6 Billion Ruling

The nation's No. 2 cigarette maker vows to fight a Florida jury verdict of $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. executive J. Jeffery Raborn says the damages awarded Friday evening to widow Cynthia Robinson by a Pensacola jury are "grossly excessive" and Reynolds will appeal.

Robinson attorney Christopher Chestnut says the award sends a powerful message to tobacco companies that they "cannot continue to lie ... about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes."

The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 threw out a $145-billion class action verdict. Robinson individually sued Reynolds in 2008. Her husband died in 1996.

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A Florida jury has slammed a tobacco company with $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

A Pensacola jury awarded the damages Friday to Cynthia Robinson after a four-week trial along with $16.8 million in compensatory damages.

Robinson individually sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in 2008 on behalf of her late husband.

Reynolds' vice president and assistant general counsel Jeffery Raborn called the damages "grossly excessive" and vowed the company would appeal.

Robinson's case is one of thousands filed in the state after the Florida 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.


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