Season 3

Episode 314: “Smokescreen”

Episode 314: “Smokescreen”
Original Air Date:January 19, 1997
Written by::Christine Pettit & Rosanne Welch
Directed by:Victor Lobl
Produced by:

Martha Williamson
Jon Andersen
R.J. Visciglia, Jr.

Guest Cast:
Marcus Hamilton Kadeem Hardison 
Vanessa Hamilton  Holly Robinson Peete 
Esther Hamilton  Ja’Net DuBois 
J.D. Sinclair  Tim Dekay 

Tess represents a group of former employees in a class-action suit against family-owned Fairchild Tobacco. Her opposing counsel is Marc Hamilton, who has accepted this assignment to the dismay of his mother, Esther. When he was growing up, both she and his late father worked for Fairchild as a maid and a chauffeur. Young Marc vowed to one day sit in the back of a limousine rather than drive it. Now that he has arrived professionally, he is determined to live the luxurious life his parents couldn’t afford.

J. D. Sinclair, Fairchild’s vice president and heir apparent, becomes impressed with Marc’s legal prowess and doubles his hourly fee. He decides to buy the old Sinclair mansion. As they settle in, his wife, Vanessa delivers the news that she’s pregnant. She is concerned by Marc’s newfound materialism, especially his hiring of Andrew and Monica as a butler and maid. In court, Sinclair is taken aback when he recognizes Esther as his family’s former maid. Tess, however, is delighted to meet her and finagles an invitation to Marc’s lavish housewarming party.

The attorney is chagrined when his mother helps play hostess at the affair. During the resulting discussion, Esther reveals she has lung cancer from exposure to second-hand smoke during her tenure at Fairchild. Marc is stunned by this turn of events and Vanessa’s increasingly vocal opposition to their new lifestyle. He tries to resign as Fairchild’s counsel but is persuaded to stay by a smooth-talking Sinclair, who later visits the Hamilton mansion and tacitly threatens Esther. Troubled, she returns home and retrieves a mysterious envelope.

During a subsequent court session, Marc and J. D. are stunned when Tess calls Esther as a material witness. The judge grants Marc a recess, but he returns home to discover Vanessa has moved in with his mother. In court the next day, Esther reveals the contents of her envelope–letters proving Fairchild tried to bribe the government not to release its 1964 report linking cigarette smoking with cancer. The company also bribed Marc’s father to be silent by buying the family a house. Unsure of what to do, Marc is given a revelation by Tess. She tells him to focus on the real prize, God’s love, “the only thing worth winning.” Upon return to the courtroom, he urges Esther to tell the truth, which prompts Sinclair to call for a settlement in the case.

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