1. ITV Report

Chain smoker's wife awarded $23 billion in damages from cigarette firm

Cynthia Robinson successfully sued the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Credit: Reuters

A widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer has been awarded damages of more than $23 billion (£13.8 billion) in her case against the USA's second-biggest cigarette maker.

Cynthia Robinson successfully sued the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company over the death of her husband Michael Johnson, who died 18 years ago, claiming the company failed to inform customers of the health dangers and addictive nature of its products.

Johnson died aged 36 after smoking one to three packs a day "up until the day he died", after he took up the habit at 13.

The verdict was returned after a four-week trial and over 11 hours of deliberations by the jury.

The firm has said it will appeal the ruling. Credit: Reuters

Compensation of $7.3 million was awarded to Mr Johnson's widow and the couple's child, while $9.6 million was given to the cancer victim's son from a previous relationship.

Robinson was subsequently awarded the additional sum of $23.6 billion in damages after further deliberations.

The lawsuit was originally part of a larger action known as the "Engle case" which was brought against tobacco companies in 1994.

After the case was thrown out in 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that each claimant could pursue damages individually.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company said they planned to challenge the "runaway verdict".