Yahoo – AFP, 19 July 20`14
A Florida state jury has ordered the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company to pay
$23.6 billion in punitive damages to the wife of a longtime smoker who died
of lung cancer, her attorneys said (AFP Photo/Denis Charlet)
Miami (AFP) - A Florida jury has ordered RJ Reynolds tobacco to pay $23.6 billion to the wife of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in a verdict seen as one of the largest for a single plaintiff in state history.
In addition to the punitive damages, Friday's verdict also awarded more than $16 million in compensatory damages to the estate of Michael Johnson Sr.
During the four-week trial, lawyers for Johnson's widow Cynthia Robinson argued that the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company was negligent in informing consumers of the dangers of consuming tobacco and thus led to Johnson contracting lung cancer from smoking cigarettes.
They said Johnson had become "addicted" to cigarettes and failed multiple attempts to quit smoking.
The Escambia County jury returned its verdict after some 15 hours of deliberations.
"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."
RJ Reynolds plans to appeal the court decision and verdict, vice president and assistant general counsel J. Jeffery Raborn said.
The landmark award was "far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness," he charged in a statement.
Reynolds is "confident that the court will follow the law and not allow this runaway verdict to stand," Raborn added, calling the damages "grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law."
Cancer, mergers and e-cigarettes
Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of premature death in the United States, killing nearly half a million Americans each year, health experts say.
Some 18 percent of Americans now smoke, down from 42 percent in the 1960s.
The RJ Reynolds court verdict comes only days after its parent company, Reynolds American, announced it would acquire rival Lorillard to create a behemoth aimed at conquering the growing e-cigarette market.
Recent growth in e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine in a vapor rather than smoke, comes as conventional cigarette sales drop amid tight consumer spending and health concerns.
The deal could remake the US tobacco market, one of the world's most important with annual sales of more than $90 billion in 2013, according to research house Euromonitor.
With tobacco smoke claiming a life every six seconds, the tar-free, electronic alternative could help prevent much of the cancer, heart and lung disease and strokes caused by the toxins in traditional cigarettes, a group of 50 doctors and policy experts told the World Health Organization in May.
In January the United States marked the 50th anniversary of the first surgeon general's report warning that smoking caused lung cancer.
Since then, the habit has been attributed to 13 kinds of cancer and a host of other diseases, including liver and colon cancer, blindness and diabetes.
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy,Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) -(Text version)
“… The Shift in Human Nature
You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.
In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?
Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.
What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …”