Tobacco Judge Retires Early
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ The judge who presided over Minnesota’s tobacco trial was granted an early retirement after saying lawyers in the case made him sick.
Ramsey County Judge Kenneth Fitzpatrick said the trial damaged his fragile health so much that he needed a disability retirement, according to documents obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
Fitzpatrick, 62, had been under a doctor’s care since 1991 for severe heart rhythm problems that required several surgeries and a continuous program of medication.
The problems ``were exacerbated by the stresses of this prolonged, acrimonious and complex litigation,″ according to a written statement by his lawyer, R. Scott Davies.
``The normal stress of lengthy litigation was significantly increased by personal attacks on the court, including motions for recusal filed midway through the trial,″ he stated.
In March, tobacco lawyers tried to have Fitzpatrick removed from the case for bias, which the judge said caused him to experience racing of the heart, irregular heartbeat, flushed face and anxiety.
``Apparently the stresses that the judge is experiencing in his current trial situation is adversely effecting his health and heart rhythm,″ wrote Dr. Frank Indihar, the judge’s physician.
A settlement in the lawsuit was reached last month shortly before the case was to go to a jury. The state will receive $6.1 billion over 25 years.
Earlier this month, Ramsey County Chief Judge Lawrence Cohen removed Fitzpatrick from further proceedings in the case and took charge of the case himself.