R.J. Reynolds To Pay Smoker Damages

Friday, October 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A jury has ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to pay about $200,000 in damages in the case of a woman who died of lung cancer after more than 40 years of smoking.

A six-member jury on Thursday found Reynolds was negligent, but stopped short of finding that the nation's second-largest cigarette maker conspired to defraud customers. It also found that the Winston-Salem, N.C., company should not pay punitive damages.

``I wanted to make a point and we made a point,'' said Bob Jones, 70, who filed the case on behalf of his deceased wife, Suzanne.

Reynolds called the split verdict ``a victory,'' but said it will appeal. Lawyers for the tobacco company had argued Suzanne Jones chose to smoke despite more than 30 years of government health warnings.

Jones, 62, died in 1995 after smoking a pack a day for more than four decades. She continued smoking after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

In 1997 her husband sued Reynolds and three other tobacco companies, but the other defendants were later dismissed.

The jury awarded about $141,000 for Suzanne Jones' medical and funeral expenses and $59,000 to compensate Bob Jones for his loss.