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Florida Tobacco Trial: Two Jurors Explain Their Votes

Aired July 17, 2000 - 1:31 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN spoke with two of the six jurors who spent less than half a day deciding on the biggest civil damage award in U.S. history. They say the numbers may be huge but the issues are relatively simple.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jurors entering the courtroom.

LEIGHTON FINEGAN, JURY FOREMAN: We did the right thing. We thought we fulfilled a task. And we didn't want this trial to be stymied by anything or to not come to a conclusion. And we felt that we needed to send a strong message to the companies. And we still feel they are arrogant. They're still in a state of denial.

JAMES STOWBRIDGE, JUROR: They weren't interested in the people. They were just interested, you know, interested in the product, getting it out to the market and making a sale.

FINEGAN: I think that we have shone the American public that the tobacco companies have lied to them and the product is dangerous and they have not represented themselves in a manner of integrity. I think it's up to the legal system to be committed to say -- to carry forward with this verdict and to make them accountable.

JUDGE ROBERT KAYE: $73,960,000,000.

STOWBRIDGE: I don't think the numbers are going to stick. But I think they can afford to pay the numbers. I think they've got the resources to find a way to pay them. As far as the appeal, whatever, that's out of my hands, that's up to the courts.

When I started the case and I told the judge and I told the lawyers that I would listen to both sides and that's what I did. And that's what I based my opinion on and that's what I stand behind.

FINEGAN: I think this case is much more than just personal ambitions, money and personal aspirations. It's about having a conscience. It's about making something right that has been wrong for over 50 years. It's about bringing to the public the knowledge that these companies have to be accountable. And the only way that we have known in history that companies like this feel a sense of accountability is through their pocketbook. STOWBRIDGE: No, I don't believe they'll go bankrupt. I don't think the government will let us bankrupt them. If the verdict, I think the judge has got the power to overturn it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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