Lorillard Inc., the maker of Newport cigarettes, was ordered to pay a Florida widow $25 million in punitive damages by a Miami jury, the week after she was awarded $16 million in compensatory damages.
The state court jury today awarded the full amount that Dorothy Alexander’s attorney, Alex Alvarez, had urged them as punishment for her husband’s death. The Alexanders met in high school in Miami and were married for 38 years, until he died of lung cancer in 1995 at age 59.
“One of the most difficult things to do is to lose your husband, the love of your life, and then she went on and fought one of the largest businesses in America, and fought for justice,” Alvarez said after the jury announced the punitive damages verdict.
After a monthlong trial, the jury decided last week that Dorothy Alexander was entitled to $20 million in compensatory damages for the loss of her husband, Coleman Alexander. The jury reduced Lorillard’s responsibility for his death by 20 percent, for a final award of $16 million.
“Lorillard is disappointed with the jury’s decision, and the company plans to appeal,” said Gregg Perry, a company spokesman.
Ed Cheffy, an attorney for Greensboro, North Carolina-based Lorillard, had argued that his client shouldn’t be forced to pay punitive damages because cigarettes are not illegal.
“Lorillard complies with all of the laws and all of the regulations that govern the manufacture, marketing and sale of cigarettes,” he told the jury. The case is Alexander v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 07-46830-ca-10, 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida (Miami).