The Florida Supreme Court on Friday, July 18, threw out a $23 billion (or P1 trillion) punitive-damage award against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to the wife of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996.
The decision was made based on a lawsuit filed by Cynthia Robinson in 2008 over the 1996 death of her husband, Michael Johnson, who smoked heavily from his early teens, on a wrongful death claim, The Telegraph said Sunday.
The judgment was the largest in Florida history in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by a single plaintiff, according to Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the woman’s lawyer, Chris Chestnut.
Michael Johnson, a hotel shuttle bus driver who died of lung cancer in 1996 at age 36, smoked one to three packs a day for more 20 years, starting at age 13, Mr Chestnut stated.
“He couldn’t quit. He was smoking the day he died,” the lawyer told Reuters on Saturday.
Reports said Mrs Robinson’s lawsuit originally was part of a large class-action litigation known as the “Engle case,” filed in 1994 against tobacco companies.
A jury in that case returned a verdict in 2000 in favour of the plaintiffs awarding $145bn (£85bn) in punitive damages, which at the time was the largest such judgment in US history.