Tampa jury awards widow of chain smoker $15 million in big tobacco lawsuit

Gavel, scales of justice and law books
Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A widow of a smoker is $15 million richer thanks to a Tampa jury, which ruled against big tobacco on Monday.

The jurors concluded Mary Lima should be compensated after her husband, Johnny Lima died at age 60 from a smoking-related illness caused by his nicotine addiction.

Lima, a grocer and restaurateur in the Tampa area, started smoking two packs a day in the 1940s and continued his habit for more than 45 years.

His packs of choice were made by tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, which now must pay the widow $15 million in punitive and compensatory damages .

“It’s particularly gratifying when a 90-year-old widow can successfully take on a multi-billion-dollar corporation like RJR and not only prevail but give notice to the cigarette giant that pandering to our youth will not be tolerated,” said Tampa trial lawyer Steve Yerrid, who defended Mary in this case.

This is Yerrid’s second successful case against big tobacco. In 1997, as a member of the “dream team”(a dozen Florida lawyers), Yerrid helped the state win a major lawsuit against big tobacco. In the end, tobacco companies were forced to repay taxpayers $11 billion.

No other details were provided on Monday’s ruling.  News Channel 8 will have more updates when more information is released.

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