Carter was a former air-traffic controller who had smoked cigarettes for 43
years, mostly Lucky Strikes, a Brown & Williamson brand.
In 1991, Carter was diagnosed with lung cancer. Half a lung had to be removed
and Carter stopped smoking with great difficulty. Three years later he was
appalled when he saw the seven tobacco executives testify before Congress that
tobacco wasn't addictive.
Norwood "Woody" Wilner, an attorney in Jacksonville, Florida was about to
launch a series of suits against tobacco companies. He chose Carter to be his
client in the suit against Brown & Williamson. During the trial Wilner
introduced for the first time 21 documents that had been stolen from Big
Tobacco as evidence in the case. The documents were showing that the tobacco
executives were aware of the addictive and harmful nature of tobacco and chose
to not to disclose the results of the research.
Even though the documents had been stolen, Judge Brian Davis ruled the
documents admissible and let the jury use the memos in reaching their
The trial took three weeks and in the end the jury's verdict said that the
tobacco company was liable for Carter's lung cancer. Carter was awarded
$750,000 in damages to reimburse his medical and related costs.
Carter vs. Brown & Williamson was the first time an individual smoker had
won a lawsuit over a tobacco company.
the criminal probe .
will there be a deal? .
a look at the depositions .
big tobacco - what's at stake .
links & readings .
tapes & transcripts .
frontline online .
web site copyright 1995-2013 WGBH educational foundation