Jury Awards Total Of $152 Million In Case Alleging Distribution Of Cigarettes To Children

Jury Awards Total Of $152 Million In Case Alleging Distribution Of Cigarettes To Children

BOSTON - (Mealey's) A Massachusetts jury added $81 million in punitive damages on Dec. 16 to the $71 million in compensatory damages it had awarded two days earlier to the estate and only son of a woman who said she began smoking free Newport cigarettes handed out in her Boston neighborhood by Lorillard Tobacco Co., according to published reports (Will Evans v. Lorillard Tobacco Company, et al., No. SUCV2004-02840, Mass. Super., Suffolk Co.).   

Marie Evans died of lung cancer in 2002 when she was 54, after smoking Lorillard's Newports for more than 40 years, the reports say.  She reportedly testified by recorded deposition that she became addicted at age 13, smoking Newports distributed for free in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood.

Her son reportedly argued that Lorillard targeted youths and minorities in the predominantly African-American neighborhood with free Newport cigarettes distributed by glamorous white people.  

The Suffolk County Superior Court jury on Dec. 14 reportedly found in favor of the plaintiffs on all questions and awarded $50 million to Evans' estate and $21 million to Will Evans.  

The company said after the initial verdict that it would appeal.   

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the January issue of Mealey's Litigation Report: Tobacco.   For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.]

For more information, call editor Michael Lefkowitz at 215-988-7732, or e-mail him at michael.lefkowitz@lexisnexis.com.