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Rice farmers' case set to open Monday

A jury of six women and six men, along with three alternates, was selected Friday in Lonoke County Circuit Court to hear a lawsuit stemming from the 2014 collapse of Turner Grain Merchandising Inc.

Trial begins at 9 a.m. Monday with opening statements from attorneys. Circuit Judge Sandy Huckabee has set 18 days for the trial, from Monday through Feb. 28, with days off for a federal holiday and a day for other court business.

More than 100 people were in the initial jury pool, with about 50 winnowed out for "cause," usually a hardship. Two were excused for having knowledge of the case.

A group of Lonoke County farmers and their farming entities claim they're owed $6 million for rice in the August 2014 closing of Turner Grain, a broker in Brinkley. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Turner Grain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court, listing about $14 million in assets and about $47 million in debts. The farmers contend the company was an agent of KBX, a grain broker based in Benton, and that KBX was the actual buyer of their rice. KBX denies the claim.

Turner Grain was closed after federal regulators found no grain in bins certified as being full.

-- Stephen Steed

Walmart joins game: First Super Bowl ad

Walmart Inc. will tout its pickup service during its first-ever Super Bowl commercial Sunday. Called Famous Visitors, the 60-second ad stars popular science-fiction characters from movies and TV shows picking up -- or beaming up -- groceries curbside at Walmart stores.

Janey Whiteside, Walmart's chief customer officer, wrote in a blog post Wednesday that the spot plays off the Famous Cars ad campaign that the Bentonville-based retailer introduced last year. In the new, fast-paced ad, the visitors arrive at Walmart via their out-of-this-world vehicles, including the time-traveling telephone booth from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

And the Famous Visitors campaign isn't limited to the commercial, Whiteside said. "Before the game, our visitors will tease their impending arrival across a variety of media," she said. The company has also posted a two-minute version of the ad on YouTube.

Whiteside didn't say how much Walmart paid for the Super Bowl slot. But according to Bloomberg, prices for a 60-second ad during the game run about $10 million.

-- Serenah McKay

Arkansas Index slips with rest of market

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Friday at 434.52, down 17.39.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

Business on 02/01/2020

Print Headline: Rice farmers' case set to open Monday Walmart joins game: First Super Bowl ad Arkansas Index slips with rest of market

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