RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, the country’s second largest cigarette manufacturer, was forced by a US Court to pay $23.6 billion to the widow of a man who died from lung cancer in 1996. Cynthia Robinson lost her husband to lung cancer in 1996. Ms. Robinson’s husband had been a smoker for most of his life, and his cigarette of choice was Camel brand. In 2008, Ms. Robinson took legal action against RJ Reynolds seeking financial compensation for the death of her husband. To date, this is one of the largest tobacco settlements our nation has seen. All cigarette companies are required by federal law to notify consumers of the increased risk of lung cancer associated with smoking tobacco, however, Mrs. Reynolds in her suit claimed that RJ Reynolds “failed to inform consumers of the dangers of consuming tobacco." Ms. Robinson’s lawyers claimed that, due to RJ Reynolds’ negligence, her husband became addicted which ultimately led to his death. Some speculate that the verdict was as high as it was to send a message to tobacco firms. RJ Reynolds has already said they will appeal the ruling, calling it “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law." Cases like these have become more common in Florida after the state’s high court ruled that, in order to be awarded financial compensation in a tobacco lawsuit, all the plaintiff has to do is prove addiction and that smoking caused the illness, which is usually cancer. Ms. Robinson’s award is the largest resulting from a Florida class action suit.
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