Analyst Predicts Another Tobacco Industry Win

Article excerpt

Eight Jacksonville jurors hearing a high-stakes tobacco

liability case haven't begun to deliberate, but a Wall Street

analyst is predicting another victory for the tobacco industry.

Before jurors were chosen, a New York research firm assembled

two panels of Duval County residents and gave them a two-hour

version of the case, which is in its third week.

The panels heard only arguments favoring Orange Park retiree

Grady Carter, who is suing American Tobacco Co. Carter, 66,

contracted lung cancer in 1991 after 44 years of smoking. The

panelists were asked if they would award him money. Twelve of

the 18 people said they wouldn't give him a dime.

The public continues to view smoking as a personal choice, not

an overpowering addiction, and people will not punish tobacco

makers for selling cigarettes, said Gary Black, a tobacco

industry analyst for Bernstein Research in New York.

He expects the case to end this week in a hung jury or a

decision for the defendant. He's advising his financial clients

to keep buying tobacco company stock.

Carter's attorney, Norwood S. Wilner, said he has no faith in

the research. "Oh, please!" Wilner said yesterday. "It's

completely invalid. Stuff like that proves what they want it to

prove."

"We don't care about focus groups. We care about the people

here," said Sean Cronin, one of Carter's attorneys.

Officials for Brown & William-son Tobacco Corp., the successor

to American Tobacco, would not comment yesterday on the panels'

findings.

Carter claims tobacco company officials deliberately misled him

about the dangers of smoking, and he became hooked on nicotine.

He is seeking unspecified damages.

The case, which is being televised nationally by Court TV,

could go to the jury as early as today. It's being closely

watched because it's the first time a jury has seen internal

tobacco company documents that Wilner said prove deceit on the

company's part. …

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