Tennessee Jury starts Tobacco-Case Deliberations
In a tobacco trial that began in January, attorneys from both sides finally concluded their presentations on May 4, leaving the jury now to reach a verdict.
The trial, brought on by the families of 3 long time smokers who died due to smoking related diseases, consolidates lawsuits against Philip Morris, British American Tobacco Plc's Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Corp and seeks $500 million in total damages. The Defense claimed that the smokers already knew the risks of tobacco and decided to smoke anyway. On the other hand, lawyers representing the families claim the tobacco companies conspired to hide facts about smoking and designed cigarettes to enhance addiction. The Memphis jury will receive instructions tomorrow from Judge D'Army Bailey before it begins its deliberations. Some analysts have said the verdict could reverse the recent series of defeats for the industry in smoking-related trials. The industry, hit with two big-money damage awards since February, has a good chance of emerging unscathed in the Memphis trial because of its proximity to tobacco-growing country and the requirement for a unanimous verdict, they say.