Tobacco Companies Fight W.V. Suit
WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - A class-action lawsuit against four tobacco companies is on hold until at least Monday while some involved wait to hear from family and associates who were in New York when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center.
Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht sent jurors home with only a vague explanation late Tuesday morning, telling them that events unfolding in Washington and New York ``are beyond description.''
``I can't even explain it,'' he said. ``But something infinitely more important is going on today with peoples' lives that just requires us to sit back and wait.''
The trial was in its second day. It involves a unique class-action lawsuit filed by healthy West Virginia smokers who want tobacco companies to create an unprecedented medical monitoring program.
Some 250,000 smokers are suing R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, Philip Morris and Lorillard. They want the companies to pay for annual tests they say could predict emphysema and other lung diseases that cigarettes are likely to cause.
Before the adjournment, lawyers on Tuesday had read jurors depositions that tobacco company executives had given in other trials. They also showed a videotaped deposition and had planned to show at least one more before the jury was dismissed.