Nine jurors must be replaced before a trial can begin in a class-action lawsuit that seeks to require tobacco companies to pay for medical tests for Louisiana smokers, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled.
The trial had been scheduled to begin Sept. 5 but was delayed by defense appeals challenging the impartiality of the jury. No date had been set for new jury selection.
The court refused the companies' petition to throw out the entire jury impaneled during the summer. But it ruled that replacements were needed for four jurors and five alternate jurors whose deliberations might be swayed by their desire for close relatives to get free medical tests.
"On balance, we think that the revised jury is an improvement for the tobacco defendants," said Martin Feldman, a tobacco industry analyst at Salomon Smith Barney.