$81M Damages for Giving Black Kids Free Cigarettes

By Staff | December 16, 2010 | 5:56 PM EST

Boston (AP) - A jury has awarded $81 million in punitive damages to the estate and son of a Boston woman who started smoking at age 13 after a tobacco company allegedly began trying to hook black children.

The son and estate of Marie Evans, who died of lung cancer, sued Lorillard Tobacco Co., claiming his mother began smoking after Lorillard gave away free cigarette samples at the Boston housing project where she lived.

The Suffolk Superior Court jury announced punitive damages Thursday, a day after ruling North Carolina-based Lorillard should pay $71 million in compensatory damages to Willie Evans and his mother's estate.

An attorney says Willie Evans was happy he won the lawsuit against Lorillard.

A Lorillard spokesman says the company will appeal.