RJ Reynolds to appeal ruling to pay out £13.8bn

Suzie Neuwirth
RJ REYNOLDS Tobacco Company plans to appeal against a US court order to pay $23.6bn (£13.8bn) to the wife of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

The US’s second biggest tobacco company was told that it must pay the fine to Cynthia Robinson from Florida for the death of her husband Michael Johnson, alongside $16.8m in compensatory damages.

Lawyers for Robinson argued during the four-week trial that RJ Reynolds had concealed the dangers of smoking tobacco and that this had led to Johnson contracting lung cancer and dying 18 years ago.

“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,” Robinson's lawyer Willie Gary told the BBC.

RJ Reynolds believes the verdict is unfair and is planning to fight the decision as soon as possible.

“The damages awarded in this case are grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law,” J. Jeffery Raborn, vice president and assistant general counsel, told City A.M. in a statement via email.

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

“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.”