A Florida jury last week ordered R.J. Reynolds to pay a woman $23 billion because smoking killed her husband. The woman claimed the tobacco company failed to tell her husband nicotine is addictive and smoking causes lung cancer.
The jury agreed.
“The reason we have punitive damages is not only to stop bad conduct from continuing, but to punish wrong doers for their prior bad conduct,” says Houston attorney Chris Tritico.
However, the chances this widow actually receives anywhere near that amount is slim to none.
“Most cases, even after a jury verdict like this, go back into mediation and they try to settle it,” Tritico tells KTRH News. “That's probably what R.J. Reynolds is going to be looking at, let's get this thing behind us.”
“The Texas Supreme Court has limited the amount of punitives in cases before, and I think that's what the Florida courts will be looking at if it gets that far,” he says.
Unlike Texas, Florida was not part of a multi-state lawsuit against tobacco companies several years ago.