Lorillard Inc, the parent company of Newport cigarettes has awarded the family of Marie Evans $71 million, eight years after she died form lung cancer.
Yesterday a Massachusetts jury found that the cigarette company was negligent in passing out samples of cigarettes to people like Evans when she was just a child, and in denying for years the health risks associated with cigarettes.
This precedent setting case is first to claim that Lorillard had decided to target minority communities with its samples of Newports, a menthol brand more popular among black communities.
The Suffolk Superior Court jury awarded compensatory damages of $50 million to the estate of Marie Evans and $21 million to her son, William Evans.
In 2002, Evans died from lung cancer at the age of 54 after smoking Newports for over four decades.
Weeks before she passed, she gave a videotaped deposition that was played for jurors in which she said she received the samples when she was as young as 9 years old.
A hearing on punitive damages in the lawsuit has been scheduled for Thursday (December 16).
The total amount of damages awarded could end up being more than $71 million.
Gregg Perry, a Lorillard spokesman, said the company denied the allegations.
He said the company would appeal and was “confident it will prevail.”