Charles Kueper

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Charles Kueper was a plaintiff in a 1993 legal case against R.J. Reynolds.

Mr. Kueper, a truck driver, smoked a pack and a half of R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand cigarettes every day for most of his adult life and contracted lung cancer. He claimed in his lawsuit that R. J. Reynolds and the Tobacco Institute, the industry's trade and lobbying association, had conspired to use deceptive advertising to conceal the dangers of smoking. On January 29, 1993, after a ten week trial, a jury cleared R.J. Reynolds of the charges. Mr. Kueper died of his cancer in March of that same year.[1]

Juror debriefing exercise in Kueper

After Mr. Kueper's trial concluded, tobacco industry attorneys invited the jurors to a "post-verdict party" at a nearby Hyatt hotel. They then arranged to visit all but one of the jurors more extensively at home. They carefully interviewed each juror for about 90 minutes to find out why they ruled the way they did in the Kueper, and took notes on what they found.

The lessons learned from these post-trial interviews were related in a 1993 letter from Richard Stuhan, an attorney representing R.J. Reynolds, to tobacco industry attorney David Kincaid Hardy (son of David Ross Hardy of the industry law firm of Shook, Hardy and Bacon). The attorneys made some interesting observations, for example this excerpt regarding African American jurors:

Indeed, the interviews demonstrate that the black jurors on this panel were actually stronger defense jurors than their white counterparts...Indeed, the concerns of the white jurors appeared to be more deep-seated than those expressed by the holdout...The white jurors who were troubled by industry advertising practices seem to have developed a bad case of "noblesse oblige." Each of them denied that the industry practices which he found objectionable had affected him in any way, but professed concern over the impact of industry advertising on his less savvy brethren. The black jurors, in contrast, made it clear that they did not need any help from their "white" patrons in dealing with industry advertising. None of the black jurors felt that he was himself deceived by tobacco advertising or that other similarly-situated blacks had been deceived by it...Interviews of the Kueper jurors, thus, confirm our previous research showing that black jurors are at least as favorable to the defense as white jurors.

Another clause discusses the point of view of a juror, who, unbeknownst to the attorneys, had diabetes, and how this weighed in her decision in the case. [2]


  1. New York TimesCharles Kueper, Tobacco Suit Plaintiff, 51 Obituary column. March 7, 1993
  2. Stuhan R Confidential Communication From Outside Counsel for RJR with Whom B&W Maintains A Common Legal Interest, to B&W Outside Counsel and Forwarded to B&W in-House Counsel Containing Legal Advice and Attorney Opinion Work Product Regarding Analysis of Kueper Trial and Post-Trial Interviews with Jurors. July 2, 1993. 538pp. Bliley Collection Bates No. 536480002/0285

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