BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A jury has awarded $71 million in damages to the estate and son of a Boston woman who died of lung cancer, ruling in a lawsuit that accused Lorillard Tobacco Co. of trying to entice black children to become smokers by handing out free samples in urban neighborhoods.

A Suffolk Superior Court jury announced its verdict Tuesday.

Willie Evans alleged that Lorillard introduced his mother to smoking as a child in the 1950s by giving her free Newport cigarettes in her Boston housing project. Evans said his mother smoked for more than 40 years before dying of lung cancer at age 54.

Ed Sweeda, a senior attorney at the Tobacco Products Liability project at Northeastern University, applauds the ruling. “What is especially gratifying is that even… after many decades have passed since the wrongful conduct of Lorillard’s handing out samples to young children took place, the company is now being held accountable.”

WBZ News Radio’s Lana Jones reports.

Lawyers for the Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard said that like many other cigarette companies, it gave away free samples decades ago, but insisted that the company did not give them to children. “Lorillard respectfully disagrees with the jury’s verdict and denies the plaintiff’s claim that the company sampled to children or adults at Orchard Park in the early 1960’s,” said Gergg Perry, a spokesman for the Lorillard Tobacco Company. “The plaintiff’s 50-year-old memories were persuasively contradicted by testimony from several witnesses.”

Lorillard says it will appeal the verdict.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (8)
  1. cynic says:

    I am very apprehensive about the furure of our Legal system.

  2. Rambo says:

    The Jury got it right on this one they did the same thing in downtown Boston I was 16 years old. They did not care who they gave them to. All they cared about was that they gave them out

  3. Ron says:

    Soooo…. Lorillard representatives also opened the pack, lit one for her, and put it in her mouth? Then held her at gunpoint and made her puff on it? Oh wait, sorry, I forgot that no one’s ever responsible for their actions… unless it’s something good and you can get rewarded. But anything bad that happens to you is because of someone else and you are completely blameless. When I was 14 if my parents caught me smoking not only would I have been smacked in the head they would’ve smacked me a second time (even harder) if I’d tried saying that someone else gave me the cigarettes. I was expected to know better at that age.

  4. cynic says:

    Unbelievably stupid.

  5. cynic says:

    If a verdict is the result of animus toward the Tobacco Company couldn’t this be considered a Hate Crime?

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