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Verdict of $152 Million in Wrongful Death Smoking Case

A court ruled earlier this month that the Lorillard Tobacco Company was responsible for the wrongful death of Marie Evans. The company’s liability stemmed from its practice of handing out free cigarettes to children, including Ms. Evans. Marie Evans became addiced to cigarettes and died of lung cancer.

Florida wrongful death lawyers noted that the court awarded $71 million in compensatory damages, and added another $81 million in punitive damages.

Willie Evans, the son of Marie Evans, was the plaintiff. He said that Lorillard handed out Newport cigarettes to children like his mother in the Orchard Park neighborhood of Boston where she lived. The cigarettes were handed out in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The jurors in the case watched a video deposition from Marie Evans recorded three weeks before she died. Evans described how she received cigarettes from Lorillard when she was a child.

The plaintiffs argued that Lorillard “developed techniques to manipulate and control the nicotine delivery of its cigarettes so as to create and sustain addiction in smokers, including Marie Evans.”

In 2002, Marie Evans died at age 54 from small cell lung cancer.

Willie Evans said of the verdict, “It’s certainly bittersweet. If I had my choice, I would have preferred the tobacco company not to have given my mother cigarettes as a 9-year-old child.”

Lorillard, the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the United States, continues to deny the Evans’ claims, and plans to appeal the verdict.

A Lorillard spokesperson said, “Lorillard respectfully disagrees with the jury’s verdict and denies the plaintiff’s claim that the company sampled to children or adults at Orchard Park in the early 1960s.”

Source: CNN “Jury awards family $152 million in damages over smoking wrongful death” 12/16/2010

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