Palm Beach County, Florida, jury to decide punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds for 1993 cancer death of a Boynton Beach woman; jury previously awarded US$6M to victim's family

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida , June 23, 2014 () – A jury will return to a Palm Beach County courtroom today to decide how much to punish R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for the 1993 lung cancer death of a Boynton Beach woman.

When it on Friday awarded Gwendolyn Odom $6 million for losing her 58-year-old mother, Juanita Thurston, it also decided the tobacco giant should pay punitive damages.

How much will be determined after a short trial today. The testimony will focus on how much the cigarette-maker is worth. Punitive damages are to punish, but not destroy, the company.

Odom, 63, is the ninth person in Palm Beach County and roughly 75th statewide to win awards from cigarette-makers for producing defective and dangerous products without warning the public. All of the cases stem from a 1994 class-action lawsuit.

While a Miami-Dade County jury awarded smokers and their families $145 billion, the Florida Supreme Court in 2006 threw out the jury award. It ruled that each person must prove his or her damages in separate trials. About 4,000 cases are pending statewide.

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