A Florida widow awarded $23.6 billion in the death of her chain-smoking husband called the massive verdict a message to Big Tobacco, even though she likely will not see much if any of the money. The punitive damages - $23,623,718,906.62, to be precise - almost certainly will be significantly reduced on appeal, if not thrown out entirely, legal experts and industry analysts said. In another major tobacco trial, a $28 billion verdict in a 2002 case in Los Angeles turned into $28 million after appeals.
The No. 2 cigarette maker is vowing to fight a jury verdict of $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. executive J. Jeffery Raborn said: This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented. 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.
For most of us, if we think about the U.S. Virgin Islands at all, we think just of tropical resorts and hurricanes. The debut novel by Tiphanie Yanique, LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING, is a deft argument that a rich and complicated culture is waiting just beyond the tourists, if we dare ask some uncomfortable questions about who we are and whom we love.