BEST VICTIM Minneapolis 1999 -
After they put in their eon of public service, at least O.J. Simpson jurors got to 1) render a verdict, and (because the verdict was hugely controversial) 2) enjoy their 15 minutes of fame on the talk-show circuit. Not so for the Ramsey County residents who last year spent four months hearing the state's federal lawsuit against Big Tobacco. Having paid scrupulous attention day after day for four months, many of the jurors were crushed when the case was settled at the 11th hour. Adding insult to injury, while the state and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota walked away with $6.6 billion and the law firm that represented the state snagged nearly $500 million in fees, the trial left three of the jurors penniless. Dan Showalter, James Livingston, and David Olson say they found themselves empaneled despite having told Ramsey County District Judge Kenneth Fitzpatrick that lengthy jury duty would be a financial hardship. After Livingston filed for bankruptcy protection (he tried working the graveyard shift during the trial but couldn't stay awake for testimony), court officials asked the state Legislature to reimburse the three for lost income (up to $30,000 in Olson's case) and other expenses. At press time, a Senate bill for reimbursement appeared headed for passage.