William E. Wecker Associates
William E. Wecker Associates is an American statistical consulting firm. The firm has a long history of supporting tobacco companies in American litigation cases.
In the firm’s own words, the company has:
“a track record of creative and effective applications of statistical and mathematical analysis to questions arising in regulation and litigation, in business and government”.
- 1 Employees at William E. Wecker Associates
- 2 Relationship with the Tobacco Industry: Multiple Tobacco Clients
- 3 Used Freedom of Information Request to Access Lung Cancer Patient Records
- 4 Expert Court Testimonials on Behalf of Tobacco Industry
- 5 TobaccoTactics Resources
- 6 Relevant Link
- 7 References
Employees at William E. Wecker Associates
Key people at the firm have been idenitfied as:
- William (‘Bill’) Wecker – Founder and President
- Laurentius Marias – Vice President
- Stephen R Hoff – Vice President
- Karen Taves – Principal Consultant
Relationship with the Tobacco Industry: Multiple Tobacco Clients
Wecker Associates has been a consultant to tobacco companies since 1990, when RJ Reynolds commissioned the firm to scrutinise the methodology underlying the Cancer Prevention Study II (CP SII), a prospective mortality study started in 1982 by the American Cancer Society.
Wecker’s website, accessed in January 2018, listed Altria, RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris International as clients, and named Japan Tobacco International and Lorillard as former clients (see images 1 & 2).
Used Freedom of Information Request to Access Lung Cancer Patient Records
In January 2018, The Daily Telegraph reported that in July 2016 Wecker Associates had requested, and successfully obtained, data from Public Health England (PHE) under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. PHE, the executive arm of the UK Department of Health, was asked for lung cancer patient records “to examine the role regulation should play and the relationship between tobacco use and cancer”.
It remains unclear which tobacco client was behind Wecker’s FOI request, and to what end. According to PHE, it had released the information “under our legal duty to comply with the Freedom of Information Act”.
However, it is now well documented that tobacco companies misuse FOI legislation to impede tobacco control progress. For some examples, go to:
Expert Court Testimonials on Behalf of Tobacco Industry
Wecker Associates has provided expert court testimonials on behalf of the tobacco industry in a long list of American legal actions, where smokers and/or state governments sought to recoup healthcare costs on tobacco companies. Its depositions have challenged the methods used to estimate health harms, medical cost, or other arguments used against tobacco companies.
For example, a 2010 class action against Philip Morris USA claimed that the tobacco company had misled people about the amount of tar and nicotine delivered to smokers of Marlboro ‘Light’ cigarettes. Bill Wecker testified that low-tar cigarettes were indeed associated with a statistically significant reduction of lung cancer risk, contrary to the scientific consensus on this issue.
Below is a selection of other lawsuits in which the firm acted as the tobacco industry's expert witness:
- 2012: Willard R. Brown et al. v American Tobacco Company
- 2010: Dayna Craft, Jason Stone, Deborah Larsen, Wendu Alper-Pressman, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v Philip Morris Companies Inc and Philip Morris Incorporated
- 2005: United States of America v Philip Morris Incorporated et al
- 2003: United States of America v Philip Morris
- 2003: Susan Miles v Philip Morris Companies (No. 00-L-112)
- 2002: Lawrence Lucier and Laurie Lucier v Philip Morris Inc.
- 2002: Bullock v Philip Morris Inc.
- 2000: Gloria Scott et al. v American Tobacco Company
- 1999: Engle v RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company
- 1998: State of Arizona v American Tobacco Company, Brown & Williamson Tobacco, Ligget & Myers, Lorillard Tobacco Company, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, RJR Nabisco, United States Tobacco Company, BAT Industries, British American Tobacco Company, the Council for Tobacco Research USA, Tobacco Institute Inc.
- 1998: State of Washington v American Tobacco Company
- 1998: Patricia Hemley v Philip Morris Inc. et al.
- 1997: Joann Karbiwnyk v RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company
A 2006 peer-reviewed study by Max and Tsoukalas showed that Wecker Associates, and other tobacco industry defend, were part of a tobacco industry legal strategy to create doubt and confusion about whether or not smoking caused disease that led to increased healthcare costs, at a time of unprecedented legal action against the industry. The defenders’ role was also to argue that economic models used to calculate costs incurred by plaintiffs were not appropriate and that data sources used because they did not consist of the individuals whose health care costs were being sought.
- Philip Morris USA
- Philip Morris International
- Japan Tobacco International
- Tobacco Institute
- Freedom of Information Requests
- Legal Strategy
- Wecker E. Williams Associates, Clients, undated, accessed January 2018
- Unknown, Deposition of Laurentius Marais, Ph.D., May 22 2002, Bullock c. Philip Morris Inc., Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: maraisI052402, 24 May 2002, accessed January 2018
- W.E. Wecker, Gloria Scott, et al., Against the American Tobacco Company Inc., et al., Videotaped deposition of William E. Wecker, Ph.D., Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 523240201-523240414, 1 November 2000, accessed January 2018
- L. Donnelly, Medical records of thousands of patients were handed to US firms connected to tobacco industry by British health officials, Telegraph probe reveals, Daily Telegraph, 15 January 2018, accessed January 2018
- G. Dimopoulos, A. Mitchell, T. Voon. The tobacco industry’s strategic use of freedom of information laws: A comparative analysis. Oxford University Comparative Law Forum (2016)
- R.N. Proctor. Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition. University of California Press, 2011
- Dana Craft et al v. Philip Morris Companies, mocigarettecase.com, 2013, accessed January 2018
- W.E. Wecker, (PMUSA’s) Expert Report of William Wecker, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 3155722080-3155722146, 1 March 2010, accessed January 2018
- W.E. Wecker, Willard R. Brown, et al. v. the American Tobacco Co., Inc., et al. Expert Report of William Wecker. On the subject of low tar and light cigarettes. 20120827. JCCP No. 4042. Case No. 711400. (San Diego Superior Court Case No. 711400), Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 3990556377-3990556465, 27 August 2012, accessed January 2018
- Unknown, trial testimony of William E. Wecker, PhD., accepted March 15, 2005, United States of America v Philip Morris USA Inc., Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: weckerw030705er, 15 March 2005, accessed January 2018
- Unknown, Deposition of William E. Wecker, PhD., October 22, 2003, United States of America v Philip Morris Inc, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: WECKERW102203, 22 October 2003, accessed January 2018
- W. Wecker, Susan Miles vs. Philip Morris Companies Inc.. Deposition of William Wecker. 20030110. No. 00-L-112, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 3990561384-3990561512, 10 January 2003, accessed January 2018
- R.A. Brodie, Notice of Taking Expert Depositions (Richard Carchman), Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 3990121514-3990121524, 15 January 2002, accessed January 2018
- Scott v American Tobacco Co. Inc. et al, Nos. 2002-CC-2449, 2002-CC-2452. Decided: November 15, 2002, caselaw.findlaw.com, undated, accessed January 2018
- Unknown, Trial testimony of William E. Wecker, Ph.D., ay 5, 1999 (p.m.), Engle v. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: WECKERW050599PM, 5 May 1999, accessed January 2018
- R. Goodwin, R. Howard, L.V. Berke et al., State of Arizona, Plaintiffs, Vs. American Tobacco Co., Inc. Defendants. Defendants’ Fourth Supplemental Rule 26.1 Disclosure Statement (980803). No. CV 96-14769, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 83799842-83800388, 3 September 1998, accessed January 2018
- W.E. Wecker, State of Washington, Plaintiff, vs. American Tobacco Co., et al., Defendants. Deposition of William E Wecker, Ph.D., Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 522588614-522588854, 10 September 1998, accessed January 2018
- W. Wecker, Trial transcripts. Joann Karbiwnyk, Plaintiff, vs. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Defendant, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 525856971-525857035, 24 October 1997, accessed January 2018
- W. Max, T. Tsoukalas, Economics on trial: the use and abuse of economic methods in third party tobacco litigation, Tobacco Control, 2006 Dec; 15(Suppl 4): iv77-iv83