J Kendrick Wells

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John Kendrick Wells III was a Brown & Williamson Assistant General Counsel. He was universally known as "Kendrick" but he always added the "J" to create the more prestigious "J Kendrick Wells" of the Southern gentleman. The US company B&W had become a subsidiary of the London-based British-American Tobacco, but it still operated in a semi-autonomous way.

In a January 17, 1985 memo, Wells said he had advised Earl Kornhorst, Brown & Williams Tobacco's Vice President for research, development and engineering, on the need to prune scientific reports from his files. Wells marked certain reports with an "X" to designate those that were "deadwood in the behavioral and biological studies area". The whole tobacco industry became highly sensitive to having incriminating material 'discovered' in their files during court cases in the mid-1980s, and so they all began to run special training programs for top executives around the world in "Document Retention' which was a euphemism for 'Document Destruction'.

Wells advised that the Janus studies--a secret program of biological research on the effects of smoking which showed tumor growth in animals--should be treated as "deadwood". These documents should be segregated, boxed and put in the basement for possible shipment to British American Tobacco Industries in England, but no one "should make any notes, memos or lists of the documents" (L.A. Times 8/2/94).

A legal biographical determination says of him:

Wells served as Assistant General Counsel for production for litigation for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. Wells has knowledge of the editing, suppression and control of scientific research on tobacco and health; the destruction and/or concealment of documentary evidence; and British American Tobacco Industries P.L.C., British American Tobacco and Brown & Williamson operations. Mr. Wells was Assistant General Counsel for Brown & Williamson. [1]


1960 J. Kendrick Wells III graduated from Paintsville High School in Paintsville, Kentucky in 1960,
1964 attended Harvard University and graduated in 1964.
1967 He attended the University of Kentucky College of Law, graduated in 1967 with a Juris Doctor degree and was admitted to the bar that fall. After law school, he was clerk for a year to Judge Burt Combs on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
1969 -72 He worked for about four years with the law firm then known as Wyatt, Grafton & Sloss, which was the forerunner of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs.
1972 He started working for B&W in 1972, joining the corporate legal staff as an attorney. He reported to B&W General Counsel Ernest Pepples at the Brown & Williamson headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky
1986 /E In the latter half of the 1980s he was made Assistant General Counsel.[2]

Documents & Timeline


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  1. (PMI's Introduction to Privilege Log and Glossary of Names, Estate of Burl Butler v. PMI, et al, April 19, 1996)