A man has been awarded $157 MILLION in a wrongful death lawsuit after his husband died of lung cancer related to smoking.
Tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris were ordered by a Broward County jury to pay Bryan Rintoul, the spouse of the late Edward Caprio, $157.4 million, and $9 million in compensatory damages on top of that. They had to pay because the deceased smoked cigarettes from the two companies ever since he was a teen.
According to NBC News, the jury “blamed the tobacco companies for manipulating the addictive nicotine levels in cigarettes and marketing them to adolescents.” Caprio was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 1996 and finally succumbed to the disease in 2018.
“This is the largest award in a tobacco case in the last five or so years, and it is the only time that a same-sex couple has pursued a wrongful death case against this industry in Florida or anywhere in this country,” Jonathan Gdanski, a lawyer representing Rintoul, said. “For that matter, I am not familiar with any other same-sex wrongful death verdict of any type.”
That last sentence explains why the award is notable. It is the first case of its kind in Florida that involves a same-sex married couple.
Rintoul met Caprio in the 1970s, and they moved in together in the 1980s. “We made a commitment to each other,” Rintoul said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “We thought it would be nice to be married, just to be acknowledged as a legal couple. but we accepted our relationship as it was.”
He told NBC News that he hopes his victory in court will help others with similar stories.
“I feel that it is holding the tobacco companies accountable for their deceptive practices of many years,” he said. “And I feel it was a win for same-sex couples that they can feel they can have their day in court.”
In case you missed why the man’s sexuality is significant, let’s run it back — “This is the largest award in a tobacco case in the last five or so years, and it is the only time that a same-sex couple has pursued a wrongful death case against this industry in Florida or anywhere in this country”
Jury has awarded a gay man more than $157M in a wrongful death lawsuit after his husband died. https://t.co/drR0SlEMUb
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 20, 2019