It is difficult not to notice the irony of two jurors suing for $6 billion worth of slander, slander associated with the award of exorbitant sums in civil suits. Poetic justice, that:
- A pair of Mississippi jurors have filed a $6 billion lawsuit against CBS’ “60 Minutes,” alleging that its Nov. 24 report titled “Jackpot Justice” slandered and defamed them.
The segment told of runaway juries in Jefferson County, Miss., where complainants — some of whom came to the state solely because of the county’s generous reputation — have won millions of dollars in civil awards for suing out-of-state corporations in product liability cases.
The plaintiffs, Anthony Berry and Johnny Anderson, served on juries that awarded $150 million verdicts in an asbestos case and a diet drug case, respectively. They are seeking $5 billion in punitive damages.
“60 Minutes” also alleged, through an anonymous onscreen source, that jurors received kickbacks after rendering their verdict. That source has been identified as florist Beau Strittman, who won a multimillion-dollar verdict in a drug liability case in the state. Strittman is also named as a defendant, as is Wyatt Emmerich, a local newspaper publisher. Emmerich was quoted on the show as calling county residents “rural and disenfranchised people” who were awarding the large verdicts as a way of paying back “Yankee corporations.”
I’m not sure why this pair of jurors was any more slandered than the others – I guess they were the ones to get a lawyer – but unless CBS has some proof to back up the allegations, there would at least appear to be some merit to the suit. I wonder how they arrived at the $6 billion figure, though: darts, a number out of a hat, the human population of the earth, watching Austin Powers movies? That figure has doubtless made CBS sit up and take notice.