Former Fiancee Turns Over Tobacco Documents to Suing Lawyers
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The former fiancee of a Philip Morris USA executive has turned over boxes of documents to lawyers suing seven of the nation’s largest tobacco companies over nicotine levels in cigarettes.
Hatsy Heap told ABC News that Ronald A. Tamol, the company’s director of research and brands development until 1993, stored more than 70 boxes of documents at her house. When she and Tamol broke up a few weeks ago, she said, he removed most of the documents.
Ms. Heap turned over the remaining eight boxes to the lawyers handling a massive federal class-action lawsuit brought against the tobacco companies.
Among the documents she handed over, according to reports broadcast Tuesday night by both NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News Tonight, was a 1965 handwritten memo stating the need to ``determine the minimum nicotine drop to keep normal smokers hooked.″ It was stamped ``R.A. Tamol.″
Philip Morris denounced the reports as being the result of a ``bizarre stunt″ pulled by the lawyers pursuing the class action.
Philip Morris has asked to see the documents, but its requests have been denied, the company said in a statement issued by its New York headquarters.
``As a result, we cannot ... even verify whether the documents are authentic,″ the statement said.
NBC also reported that FBI agents questioned at least two former Philip Morris executives Monday in Richmond. The FBI and Justice Department declined to comment.
There was no answer Tuesday night at a phone number listed for Tamol in Richmond. There was no listing for Ms. Heap.
The lawyers handling the class action have sought to make public internal Philip Morris documents about nicotine in cigarettes, arguing that the world’s largest tobacco company manipulates nicotine specifically to hook smokers.
The lawsuit, filed in New Orleans on behalf of every smoker and former smoker in the country, accuses tobacco companies of manipulating nicotine to addict them.
The action was filed by Dianne Castano, whose husband died of lung cancer, and smokers Ernest Richard Perry Sr., T. George Solomon and Gloria Scott, all of New Orleans.
They went to court after witnesses testified during congressional hearings last spring that tobacco company officials knew nicotine was addictive and hid that information from the public.