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|Fiancee Gives Documents to Lawyers|
NEW YORK - An angry ex-fiancee of a retired Philip Morris Cos. executive, who alleges he got her hooked on cigarettes, has turned over more than 10,000 pages of documents to lawyers suing the tobacco industry.
John Coale, a plaintiff's lawyer involved in a huge class-action suit against the industry in federal court in New Orleans, said the woman unexpectedly contacted his group last week.
He said the woman, Harriet "Hatsy" Heep, a 48-year-old Richmond, Va., interior designer, called the lawyers after watching coverage of last week's arguments before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals over whether the suit can retain its class-action status Cheap Cigarettes Free Shipping.
If the class, made up of smokers addicted to nicotine, is upheld, it will be the largest such action in history.
"Nobody had any idea she existed a few weeks ago. This was a complete surprise," Coale said.
He said they took her sworn statement on Friday and the plaintiffs' lawyers were still digging through the eight boxes of documents that had been stored in Heep's basement.
The documents Wholesale Cigarettes, dated from 1962 to 1992, had been placed there by the woman's ex-fiance, Ronald Tamol, a retired Philip Morris research executive. They include what appear to be company memos and handwritten notes by Tamol.
"They focus on the level of nicotine needed to keep people hooked," said Wendell Gauthier, a New Orleans plaintiffs' lawyer involved in the litigation.
The lawyers said that Heep told them she had a serious fight with Tamol about three weeks ago and had broken up with him after being pressured by him and Philip Morris to destroy the documents Marlboro Menthol.
Gregory Murphy, an Alexandria, Va., lawyer representing Heep, said his client had no comment.
Asked why she turned over the papers, he said, "There was important information about a very serious matter that is being litigated in this country. I'm sure that's what motivated her."
Tamol, 62, told The Washington Post that he was "astounded" at Heep's allegations. "Everything she's saying can and will be refuted," said Tamol, who worked at Philip Morris for 29 years developing manufacturing techniques and managing several brands.
Tamol said that he had not kept Philip Morris documents at his house other than some "old notes from the '60s . . . and if they're there, they're just my own scribblings, nothing to do with Philip Morris."
Coale said that the plaintiffs' team in the New Orleans suit, known as the Castano case, has turned the documents over to the Justice Department, which is conducting five different investigations of the tobacco industry.
Among the investigations is a probe into whether top industry executives committed perjury by denying to Congress in 1994 that nicotine is addictive Newport Cigarettes Website.
Coale said he expects the documents will also be shared with the seven states that are suing the industry to recoup Medicaid costs for treating smokers Marlboro Cigarettes, and with the Food and Drug Administration, which has proposed regulating cigarettes as drug delivery devices.
Philip Morris, the nation's largest cigarette maker, said the leaking of the documents "may be the most bizarre stunt the Castano plaintiffs' lawyers have pulled to date."
It said the plaintiffs' lawyers would not show the company the documents and therefore it could not comment on them Carton Of Newport 100S.
In her statement, Heep said Tamol told her that he kept the materials at home because Philip Morris had a policy of destroying documents and he wanted to preserve them. "I will not destroy my life's work," she quotes him as saying.
The lawyers said that Heep, in her statement, describes fights between the couple.
Gauthier said Heep alleged that Tamol had gotten her hooked on cigarettes and called her "my little addict."
He said that the final breakup occurred after Heep's 21-year-old daughter visited several weeks ago and said she finally quit smoking.
Tamol allegedly asked if the young woman had been smoking Marlboros, Philip Morris' leading brand. When she said she was, he allegedly replied that she should not have been able to stop, Gauthier said.
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|8/4/2020 10:30:03 AM|
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