CLEARING THE AIR OVER A KEY CIGARETTE TRIAL
In response to your article on the recent Supreme Court decision regarding tobacco industry liability ("This decision may be hazardous to tobacco's health," Top of the News, July 6): The jury award of $400,000 in the Thomas Cipollone case was reversed on appeal and remanded for a new trial because the jury was improperly instructed.
The Cipollone case was originally tried on a claim of fraud and misrepresentation similar to that which the U.S. Supreme Court said the Cipollone family can raise in a new trial. The claim was decided in favor of the defendant companies.
The federal judge in Newark, N.J. (not New York City), did not order the tobacco defendants to "hand over 1,500 pages of evidence concerning the Council for Tobacco Research . . . ." The defendants were ordered to hand over five documents (50 pages). You correctly point out that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has been asked by the defendants to reverse that order.
And finally, with regard to the statement that the judge agreed that "the industry's claim that it was sponsoring independent research was a fraud . . . ," it should be pointed out that only a jury can decide that factual determination and, as previously noted, a similar claim was rejected by the jury in the first trial.
George L. Knox
Philip Morris Cos.
Editor's note: Some 1,489 pages of documents were referred to a special master of the court to determine whether they met the legal test for relevance to the plaintiffs' case.