Although the details behind her lawsuit are morbid, the widow probably had a pretty good day when she scored a huge judgment Friday against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., winning $23.6 billion (!) in punitive damages and $16 million in compensatory damages.
Cynthia filed suit in 2008 against the second largest cigarette producer in the U.S. on behalf of her husband Michael Johnson Sr., a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996, according to USA Today. After 15 hours of deliberation following a four-week trial, the jury determined that the tobacco company was negligent in telling Michael that smoking causes lung cancer and nicotine is highly addictive.
"The environment today is completely different than it was in the '50s and '60s, when Robinson's husband was alive," said Christopher Chestnut, one of the Cynthia''s attorneys. "Reynolds knew its product was addictive, but it didn't market it correctly. The company lied and marketed cigarettes as safe, yet they contained countless harmful chemicals."
"The jury wanted to send a statement that tobacco cannot continue to lie to the American people and the American government about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes," Christopher continued.
The Tobacco company, of course, had a different perspective. "This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented," Reynolds' vice president and assistant general counsel Jeffrey Raborn said. "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."
According to the site, the goal of the lawsuit was to stop tobacco companies from targeting children and young people with their advertising.
We can't help but wonder what Cynthia has in store for all of that cash.