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R.J. Reynolds has been slammed with a $23 billion verdict

In spite of an increased awareness of the dangers of smoking cigarette sales for R.J. Reynolds have been good over the years. There has however remained uneasiness in the public about the firm making a fortune on sales of what many doctors would say is proven poison. A jury has recently hit R.J. Reynolds with a $23 billion verdict reported USA Today on July 19, 2014.

 Cigarette packets with health warnings are displayed in a convenience store in Sydney, Australia.
Cigarette packets with health warnings are displayed in a convenience store in Sydney, Australia.Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

A jury in Florida has returned one of the largest verdicts in history against a tobacco company. In the case of Cynthia Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company the jury sided on Friday night with Robinson. Robinson is the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996. The jury verdict awarded her more than $16 million in compensatory damages and $23 billion in punitive damages from R.J. Reynolds

In the aftermath of a trial which lasted almost four weeks the jury deliberated for 15 hours and eventually determined that R.J. Reynolds was negligent in informing Robinson's husband, Michael Johnson Sr., about smoking causing lung cancer and the fact that nicotine is extremely addictive. Christopher Chestnut, one of the woman's attorneys, said R.J. Reynolds lied and marketed cigarettes as safe, and yet they contain many harmful chemicals. Johnson was addicted to cigarettes and died of lung cancer.

A jury in Florida has slammed R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. with $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit which was filed by the widow of a man who smoked for a long time and died of lung cancer in 1996 reports the New York Post. The Florida courts have upheld that smokers and their families need only to prove addiction and that smoking was the cause of their illnesses or deaths. The jury sent a message to R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies that they cannot continue to lie to the American people and the American government about the addictiveness of their cigarettes and the deadly chemicals which are in their cigarettes.

R.J. Reynolds is hitting back at this verdict. J. Jeffery Raborn, who is Reynolds’ vice president and assistant general counsel, has said the damages from the verdict in Robinson’s case are “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.” Raborn goes on to say the verdict has gone far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness. Raborn says R.J. Reynolds plans to file post-trial motions with the trial court promptly. Regardless, this case sends a strong message to the tobacco companies regarding how negative feelings are about their cigarettes among many people.