Florida Jury Awards $23.6 Billion to Widow of Michael Johnson in Smoking Lawsuit Against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company … What Happened to Personal Responsibility?

 

Sorry, I am no fan of the cigarette industry, but I am one of personal responsibility. I generally cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke and don’t understand why anyone even uses them, but this jury verdict is absurd and needs to be overturned by appeal.

An Escambia County, Florida jury awarded the widow of of a 36 year old man who died of lung cancer $23.6 million. The verdict included more than $16 million in compensatory damages. Cynthia Robinson claimed that smoking killed her husband, Michael Johnson, in 1996 at the age of 36 after he had smoked from the age of 13. The widow stated that R.J. Reynolds was negligent in not informing him that nicotine is addictive and smoking can cause lung cancer. The lawyer for the plaintiff’s said that because of the juror’s age, he had to shoe how the tobacco industry presented its product before the public awareness campaigns on tobacco risks and dangers in the 1990′s. HUH? Robinson’s attorneys, Christopher Chestnut also went on to say, “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.” HUH?

Smoking_Surgeon_Generals_warning_cigarettes

A Florida jury awarded a widow $23.6 billion in punitive damages in her lawsuit against tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, her lawyer said.

Cynthia Robinson claimed that smoking killed her husband, Michael Johnson, in 1996. She argued R.J. Reynolds was negligent in not informing him that nicotine is addictive and smoking can cause lung cancer. Johnson started smoking when he was 13 and died of lung cancer when he was 36.

The jury award Friday evening is “courageous,” said Robinson’s lawyer, Christopher Chestnut.

“If anyone saw the documents that this jury saw, I believe that person would have awarded a similar or greater verdict amount,” he said.

The Escambia County trial took four weeks and the jury deliberated for 15 hours, according to the Pensacola News Journal. The verdict included more than $16 million in compensatory damages, the newspaper said.

Chestnut said five of the six jurors who heard the case were 45 or younger, which meant he had to show them how the tobacco industry presented its product before the public awareness campaigns on tobacco risks and dangers in the 1990s, he said.

Okay, let’s do the math for the obviously challenged Florida jury. I guess this one might be as clueless as the Florida jury that deliberated in the Casey Anthony murder case. For 50 years we have been warned that smoking is hazardous to our health, where was Michael Johnson during that time?

FIRST … WHO DOES NOT KNOW THAT CIGARETTES ARE HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH AND CAUSE LUNG CANCER?

United States was the first nation to require a health warning on cigarette packages.

Now for the numbers.

  1. Michael Johnson died in 1996 at the age of 36 from lung cancer.
  2. This means the deceased would have been born in 1960.
  3. Johnson would have begun smoking in 1973 as the story above states he began smoking at the age of 13.
  4. WHAT PARENT ALLOWS THEIR CHILD TO SMOKE AT THE AGE OF 13?
  5. All 50 states bad laws banning sales to minors by 1950. The most common age of restriction for cigarettes and tobacco products today applies to persons under the age of 18. In an effort to ensure stricter enforcement 11 states have lowered the age of restriction from 21 to 15 (Tobacco Merchants Association, 1971: 1-2).
  6. The smoking age was 18 meaning for 5 years the decease was breaking the law and smoking as a minor. Who’s fault was that?
  7. In 2006 Florida state Supreme Court tossed out a $145 billion class-action verdict. That ruling also said smokers and their families need only prove addiction and that smoking caused their illnesses or deaths.
  8. In 2008 on behalf of her late husband, Michael Johnson Sr.
  9. 2014 a Florida jury awards $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.

Smoking_Surgeon_Generals_warning_cigarettes_1965

Now for some more relevant numbers.

  • On June 12, 1957, Surgeon General Leroy E. Burney declared it the official position of the U.S. Public Health Service that the evidence pointed to a causal relationship between smoking and lung cancer.
  • The 1964 report on smoking and health had an impact on public attitudes and policy. A Gallup Survey conducted in 1958 found that only 44 percent of Americans believed smoking caused cancer, while 78 percent believed so by 1968. In the course of a decade, it had become common knowledge that smoking damaged health, and mounting evidence of health risks gave Terry’s 1964 report public resonance.
  • The Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 (Public Law 89–92) required that the warning “Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health” be placed in small print on one of the side panels of each cigarette package. The act prohibited additional labeling requirements at the federal, state, or local levels.
  • In June 1967 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its first report to Congress recommending that the warning label be changed to “Warning: Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Health and May Cause Death from Cancer and Other Diseases.”
  • In 1969 Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act (Public Law 91–222), which prohibited cigarette advertising on television and radio and required that each cigarette package contain the label “Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health.”
  • In 1981 Congress enacted the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1984 (Public Law 98–474), which required four specific health warnings on all cigarette packages and advertisements:SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy.
        SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.
        SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking by Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight.
        SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide.

I am of the belief that if cigarette tobacco is so bad, then make them illegal to use. Otherwise, it is just a way of the local, state and federal government making tax money off of lung cancer. It is an individual’s choice to smoke. Sorry folks, unless you were born prior to 1965 or your terminal lung cancer occurred prior to then, you have no one to blame but yourself. For nearly 50 years there have been warning labels on cigarette packages.

EXACTLY HOW MANY WARNINGS DOES ONE NEED BEFORE THEY REALIZE THAT SOMETHING IS HAZARDOUS TO THEIR HEALTH?



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  • Comments

    One Response to “Florida Jury Awards $23.6 Billion to Widow of Michael Johnson in Smoking Lawsuit Against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company … What Happened to Personal Responsibility?”

    1. A Texas Grandfather on July 20th, 2014 2:48 pm

      The court should be ashamed of themselves as should the lawyers who brought this case. This guy should get nothing. He knew that smoking could kill him at an early age, but he chose to continue the practice hoping he would be the exception.

      With the help of a corrupt non- thinking court system that wants to punish the source of a product for the unthinking acts of a customer so that the lawyers can have a big payday, we have become a nation of irresponsibility.

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