Boston, MA: Lorillard Tobacco Co, has been found guilty of attempting to entice African American children to become smokers, by giving out free cigarettes. The jury hearing the case has awarded $71 million in compensatory damages to the estate of a woman who died of tobacco-related lung cancer, and her son.
In the suit, Willie Evans claimed that his mother, Marie Evans, was introduced to smoking as a child in the 1950s when Lorillard gave her free Newport cigarettes at the Orchard Park housing project in Boston, where she lived at the time. According to Marie Evans' lawyers, she was just nine years of age when she received her first free cigarettes. At first she passed them on to her older sisters or traded them for candy. However, by the age of 13 she had begun to smoke. Mr. Evans claimed that as a result, his mother went on to smoke for the next 40 years, until her death from lung cancer at 54. According to video testimony given by Marie Evans prior to her death, she had tried to quit 50 times over the 40 years she smoked.
Mrs. Evans' estate was subsequently awarded $50 million in compensatory damages and the jury also awarded her son $21 million. A hearing on punitive damages is set to take place before the end of this year. Lorillard is expected to appeal the decision.