Florida Supreme Court Upholds $30 million Tobacco Verdict

The Florida Supreme Court upheld a $30 million jury verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. recently.

In a 2009 ruling, the tobacco giant was ordered to pay $3.3 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages to Mathilde Martin, whose husband, Benny Martin, died of lung cancer after smoking the company's cigarettes for decades.

Attorneys for R.J. Reynolds argued that the punitive damages award was excessive, but the court disagreed and upheld the verdict.

The jury found the tobacco company 66 percent responsible for causing the death of Benny Martin, who passed away in 1995. Martin's lung cancer was blamed on his having smoked "Lucky Strike" cigarettes since the 1940s - before health advisory warnings were required to appear on cigarette packs. Martin was found to be only 34 percent responsible for his own death.

Thousands of tobacco cases are currently pending in Florida .

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