Tobacco Trial Nears End Jury Deliberation Possible Saturday

Article excerpt

A closely watched trial against a tobacco company should end

this week, attorneys said yesterday after a day of testimony

that included a chorus of the 1940s hit song Smoke, Smoke, Smoke

That Cigarette.

Attorneys for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., defending itself in

the Jacksonville wrongful-death trial, said they'll finish their

case today. The trial is in its fourth week.

Jurors will hear four hours of closing arguments Friday morning

and could deliberate Saturday, Circuit Judge Bernard Nachman

said. He'll ask the six jurors today if they're available

Saturday.

The trial's length has already exceeded the judge's

expectations. When the jurors were selected April 8, Nachman

assured them the case would last two to three weeks.

During deliberations, jurors will review stacks of complex

medical and scientific testimony to help them decide whether

Reynolds should be held responsible for the death of Jean

Connor.

The Jacksonville woman smoked two to three packs of Reynolds

brand cigarettes a day for 22 years. When she died of cancer in

1995 at age 49, her younger sister, Dana Raulerson, pursued the

lawsuit on behalf of her late sister's estate.

Reynolds attorneys claim Connor wasn't addicted because she

stopped smoking the first time she tried: in 1993, shortly

before she felt a lump in her neck that was cancerous. She, like

everyone else, knew cigarettes had health risks but chose to

continue smoking, they said. …