…and so it should. A suffolk county jury has awarded the family of Marie Evans an astonishing $71 million dollars in her wrongful death lawsuit against Lorillard tobacco, the makers of Newport cigarettes.
There have been many large awards against the tobacco companies in the past and by now the story is known to all. Tobacco companies knew for decades that their product was deadly but continued to hide and ignore evidence while promoting their product as safe. Years, and thousands of deaths later, the tobacco industry is the subject of thousands of lawsuits. But this case added another element that is quite interesting.
The estate of Marie Evans argued that Lorillard tobacco promoted and marketed Newport cigarettes to poor minority children. Ms. Evans was only 9 years old when first given a free pack of Newports while living in the Orchard Park housing projects as a child. Ms. Evans was hooked and smoked Newports until her death at the young age of 54. Attacking the cigarette companies for their predatory marketing practices of handing out free samples to poor and impressionable youth is a new tactic.
At this stage the case will surely be appealed, but there is also the chance that the jury could award punitive damages that excees the $71 million already awarded.