The publisher of a book purporting to describe the first cloning of a human being settled a $7 million lawsuit yesterday by admitting the book was untrue, by making a public apology to a scientist whose work was described in the book and by paying the scientist an undisclosed sum.
The settlement came on the third day of the trial in which J. Derek Bromhall, an Oxford University scientist, was suing for damages, claiming that his work was "wrongfully appropriated" and used in the book and that his privacy was invaded when his name appeared in a book he thought a hoax.
But the author of the book, David Rorvik, refused to have any part in the settlement or the apology, and he maintained that the book is true. Rorvik said in a telephone interview yesterday that "I am against the settlement. No apology to Bromhall is called for, and none will be forthcoming from me, ever."
"I still maintain that a cloning did take place," he said, but he added that some of the names and events in the book were "fictionalized."
The out-of-court settlement in the case was significant because it was apparently the first time that a publisher has been taken to court, had a book declared by the court to be "a hoax and a fraud" and been pressed finally to pay a settlement.
The amount Bromhall will receive was said by two sources close to the case to be about $100,000.
Arthur G. Raynes, attorney for the plaintiff Bromhall, said the amount of the settlement could not be disclosed, but that "it is a red flag . . . , enough to be a deterrent to other publishers" who might consider publishing a nonfiction book as if it were true.
Rorvik's book, "In His Image, The Cloning of a Man," was published in 1978 by J. B. Lippincott and Co. The book was a best seller in both England and America and purported to tell the story of a mysterious 65-year-old millionaire, code-named Max, who had himself cloned.
The clone was supposed to have been born in December, 1976.
The settlement included a letter from the Barton H. Lippincott, chief executive officer of the publishing house, to Bromhall in which he said:
"We hereby offer you our apology . . . . Lippincott concedes it now believes the story to be untrue. Lippincott acknowledges that Dr. Bromhall did not consent to the inclusion of his name or his research technology in the book and also acknowledges that Dr. Bromhall never engaged in, or attempted to engage in, or advocated the cloning of a human being.
"We regret any embarrassment, humiliation or other injury" that the book might have caused Bromhall.
The judge earlier had ruled the book a hoax and also had dismissed on legal grounds Bromhall's claims of defamation of character.
According to Daniel Ryan, the lawyer representing Lippincott, the settlement was made after Bromhall, through his attorney, agreed to a lower amount than was originally sought in settlement negotiations.
He said the offer was too tempting for Lippincott to pass up because of the potential costs of completing the trial and a possible appeal, even if the publisher had eventually won.
Half the settlement money will be paid by the publisher's insurance and the other half by money the publisher withheld from Rorvik's book royalties to cover legal fees.
The publisher said Rorvik earned $390,000 from the clone book, while Lippincott, before expenses, made $730,000.
Rorvik now lives in San Francisco and continues to work as a free lance writer in science and medicine.