Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Selection of Tobacco Jury Starts R.J. Reynolds Sued by Smoker's Estate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Selection of Tobacco Jury Starts R.J. Reynolds Sued by Smoker's Estate

Article excerpt

A smoker said she switched to light cigarettes because they are

"the lesser of two evils."

A man in a military uniform said smokers shouldn't be allowed

to sue cigarette companies because people must take

responsibility for their actions.

Another smoker said she wants to quit and had bought nicotine

gum, though she hadn't yet opened the pack.

The laborious process of selecting six jurors for a closely

watched tobacco negligence case began yesterday in a

Jacksonville courtroom as attorneys probed attitudes about

smoking, addiction, lawsuits and lung cancer.

Questioning moved slowly. No jurors were selected, and one

woman, whose husband had done work for one of the lawyers, was

dismissed. Everyone else returns to court today for more

questions.

"I wish I could tell you this is not going to be a long

process, but it is," said Ron Motley, a Charleston, S.C., lawyer

who represents the estate of Jean Connor, a Jacksonville smoker

who died of cancer in 1995 at age 49.

Connor's estate is suing R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which made

the Salem and Winston cigarettes Connor smoked for 22 years. Her

attorneys claim the company acted negligently by making and

marketing a dangerous product. They're seeking unspecified

compensatory damages for Connor's three children and punitive

damages to punish the country's second-largest cigarette maker.

Reynolds has denied any liability, saying Connor made an

informed decision to smoke.

The Connor case is the first to go to trial since Liggett

Group's admissions last month that smoking causes cancer,

nicotine is addictive and the company had targeted minors. It's

also the second tobacco trial for the Connor estate lawyer,

Norwood S. "Woody" Wilner of Jacksonville. Wilner's first trial

ended in August with a $750,000 verdict for his client,

ex-smoker Grady Carter, who had sued Brown & Williamson Tobacco

Corp.

Prospective jurors spent yesterday morning marking answers to

six pages of questions. Among them: Should the government ban

the sale of cigarettes? …

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