December 16, 2010 - A Massachusetts jury on December 14, 2010 ordered cigarette manufacturer Lorillard Inc. to pay $71 million in damages to a dead smoker's family for allegedly seducing the Boston woman decades ago into smoking Newport cigarettes.
The Suffolk Superior Court jury awarded compensatory damages of $50 million to the estate of Marie Evans and $21 million to her son, William Evans. A hearing on punitive damages in the lawsuit has been scheduled for Thursday. The total amount of damages awarded could rise significantly at that hearing. (Massachusetts - Lorillard loses lawsuit - did they pass out cigarettes to kids??)
Punitive Damages..A Suffolk Superior Court jury today, Thursday, December 16th decided that the Lorillard Inc. should be sanctioned for seducing a Roxbury woman into a lifelong – and fatal -- addiction to Newport cigarettes and ordered them to pay the estate of Marie Evans an additional $81 million in punitive damages.
Earlier today, the main lawyer for Lorillard asked the jurors to no longer hold the company accountable for the past. “The focus is solely on the present and the future,” Walter Cofer, a Kansas City-based attorney representing tobacco company Lorillard Inc., told jurors today. He said the company had rectified the problems that were alleged during the recent trial: The company no longer passes out samples of Newport cigarettes, it no longer advertises cigarettes on radio or television, and the company agrees that cigarettes cause cancer and other diseases. “You don’t get punished today for moving in the right direction,” Cofer said.
But attorney Michael Weisman, representing Evans’s estate and her only son, said jurors should punish Lorillard for the acts of the past with a financial penalty to make sure such acts never occur again.
Also earlier, both sides introduced financial experts who testified about the financial status of Lorillard Inc., which the jury used in deciding punitive damages.
Robert Johnson, a forensic scientist from California, said that Lorillard is in “solid” shape and that its revenue from sales grew to $5.2 billion last year, up from $4.2 billion the year before. He said the company has $1 billion in cash at hand.
But Robert H. Temkin, a Massachusetts-based certified public accountant testifying for Lorillard, said the company is most appropriately judged by its operating values of about $844 million in yearly income, once liabilities are accounted for.
The case could have implications in Washington, D.C., where federal officials are considering a ban on menthol cigarettes.
Reference: Tobacco company ordered to pay $81m in punitive damages to Roxbury woman's estate, posted by John Ellement, Boston.com, 12/16/2010.
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