Colman McCarthy's column "The Little Town That Whipped Monsanto" {Style, Nov. 8} is a cute David and Goliath story, but, unfortunately, it bears little relation to the facts of the case.

First of all, the jury agreed with Monsanto Co. that the plaintiffs were not injured by the less than a teaspoonful of dioxin in the accidental spill of the tank car full of wood preservative chemical involved in the train derailment. Despite a request by the plaintiffs for more than $34 million in compensatory damages, the jury awarded only $1 each to 63 plaintiffs as "nominal" damages and no damages for noneconomic losses such as alleged pain and suffering, and fear of future injury.

Second, the jury also agreed that the product was not unreasonably dangerous for its intended use as a wood preservative. The punitive-damages award was granted, according to the jurors, because of concerns they have about dioxin in general. The award, in the absence of a finding of injury, actual damages and a relationship to conduct causing injury at Sturgeon, is, in Monsanto's opinion, inadequate as a matter of law. We are confident the appeals courts will agree and reverse that decision.

Finally, Mr. McCarthy quoted a plaintiff who offered incorrect information regarding the cleanup of the spill. Monsanto was not responsible for the cleanup. It was supervised by a government agency, and Monsanto provided technical support. Also of note was that both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control conducted risk analyses and found no possibility of harm to any person from the minute quantities of dioxin.

In fact, the wood preservative chemical was not "laced" with dioxin. There was less than one-half a teaspoon in the 190,000 gallons. Most important, the highest amount measured in the soil at the site, before two cleanup efforts, was 60 parts per trillion, far below CDC's level at which the agency recognizes a concern.

This trial is not a case of the little town that "whipped" Monsanto; it's rather the story of how a small group of plaintiffs could bring the justice system to a grinding halt over a case that was -- and is -- completely without merit. HAROLD J. CORBETT Senior Vice President, Monsanto Co. St. Louis