Big Tobacco Seeks Mistrial

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Big Tobacco Seeks Mistrial

10/11/2001
NEW ORLEANS

Tobacco companies have asked Louisiana's highest appeals court to throw out the entire jury picked for class-action lawsuit aimed at making the companies pay to monitor the health of current and former smokers.

The companies' appeal to the state Supreme Court says the judge in the pending statewide trial made so many mistakes in picking a jury last summer that the only fair remedy is to declare a mistrial and start over, the Associated Press reported.

In September, the state Supreme Court ordered Civil District Court Judge Richard Ganucheau to replace nine of 22 jurors and alternates selected for the trial on grounds they showed bias against the companies. Yesterday's appeal asked the justices to reconsider that decision in favor of throwing out the whole jury.

The tobacco companies contend their right to a fair trial was violated by the way Ganucheau handled attempts to challenge the qualifications of other jurors whose relatives would qualify for the medical monitoring called for in the lawsuit.

The trial, which was to have started in New Orleans in September, has been put on hold until the jury issues are resolved.