Analyst Predicts Another Tobacco Industry Win
Bell, June D., The Florida Times Union
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
"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'
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. …