The Judge and The Historian

Ramses Delafontaine

Historians as Expert Witnesses Ramses Delafontaine

Peter C. English

Peter C. English

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Peter English, MD, Ph.D. is professor of history and professor of paediatrics. For thirty years, until 2005, he was also a primary care paediatrician. He has written three books on the history of medicine, covering topics including pneumonia, diphtheria, and rheumatic fever. His interests in medical history have led to his focus on teaching about epidemic diseases and public health. Professor English is a member of the Board of Directors of the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation. He is currently writing a book titled: “Resistance to Antibiotics: A History.”

English has served as an expert historian in many tobacco related cases, but also in litigation involving child poisoning by lead paint and in multiple asbestos cases.[1] In US v. Philip Morris et al. English admitted to only have read the documents that were given to him by counsel representing the tobacco companies in preparation of his testimony.[2] Despite having done several hundreds of hours of research at a rate of $250 an hour.[3] By 2005 English’s hourly rate as an expert witness had risen to $350 an hour, as English himself stated in affidavits submitted in multiple tobacco cases.[4] English has made at least $800,000 during his litigation-related work for the tobacco industry. During his deposition in US v. Philip Morris et al., English acknowledged he made more from his tobacco litigation-driven work than from his academic salary.[5]


[1] Cohen, Patricia. 2003. History for Hire In Industry Lawsuits. The New York Times, June 14. Accessed 31 Oct 2014. & Deposition of Peter Calvin English, M.D., Ph.D., August 23, 2002, United States of America v. Philip Morris USA Inc., 23/08/2002. LTDL. Bates Number: ENGLISHP082302. Accessed 31 Oct 2014.

[2] Proctor, Robert. 2004. Should Medical Historians Be Working for the Tobacco Industry? The Lancet 363, 1175.

[3] Proctor, Robert. 2006. ‘Everyone Knew But No One Had Proof’: Tobacco Industry Use of Medical History Expertise in US courts, 1990-2002. Tobacco Control 15, 123. & Deposition of Peter Calvin English, as n. 1, 32.

[4] See for example: Affidavit of Peter English, December 12, 2005, Benedict v. Altria Group. Westlaw reference: 2005 WL 4044682.

[5]Deposition of Peter Calvin English, as n. 1, 45-46. & Proctor, as n. 3.