In a news story (Part I) and an analysis story (Calendar) on April 5, The Times covered the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to let stand a $3-million libel damage award against CBS Inc., and I was honored to be quoted in both stories. But the two stories contained somewhat contradictory statements on my assessment of the impact of the decision.
As accurately reflected in both stories, I believe the ruling is of great concern because the amount awarded to the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. was far in excess of any libel award previously affirmed in final judgment by state or federal appellate courts.
But the news story failed to capture my conviction that this was a unique case in many respects, and that I do not believe its impact will be broad. Appellate courts have wisely struck down Draconian libel verdicts in the past, and I fully expect that they will continue to do so in the future.
HENRY R. KAUFMAN
Libel Defense Resource Center