- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

FAYETTE, Miss. (AP) Two former Jefferson County jurors have filed a $6 billion lawsuit against CBS' "60 Minutes" and a newspaper owner after comments about the size of jury awards in the county.
Anthony Berry and Johnny Anderson said the news program defamed them in a segment that called the county a haven for "jackpot justice."
Mr. Berry was among jurors who made a $150 million verdict in an asbestos case, and Mr. Anderson sat on a jury that awarded a $150 million judgment in a diet drug case.
They are seeking $597 million in actual damages and $5.9 billion in punitive damages.
During a "60 Minutes" report last month, Fayette florist Beau Strittman who won a non-jury settlement in a lawsuit about the obesity drug Redux said juries "awarded these people this money because they felt as if they were going to get a cut off of it."
Mr. Strittman said he was joking and thought he was off camera when he made the comment.
"I don't think the jury here in Jefferson County or anyone has done anything wrong, and if they have it's not of my knowledge," he said last week.
Also named in the suit is Wyatt Emmerich, who owns Emmerich Newspapers Inc. and who also criticized Jefferson County juries on "60 Minutes."
Mr. Emmerich described Jefferson County jurors as disenfranchised residents who want to stick it to Yankee companies.
"The African Americans feel like it's payback for disenfranchisement. And the rednecks, shall we say, it's like revenge for the Civil War. And it's very easy to weave this racial conflict and this class conflict into a big money pot for the attorneys."
Kevin Tedesco, a spokesman for "60 Minutes," said the program cannot comment until it has received a copy of the lawsuit.
"We stand by the story," he said. "We'll comment after we've been properly served."
Mr. Emmerich said Monday his remarks were aimed at the jury system in general rather than any specific jury. He called the lawsuit frivolous.

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