KERRY: A HELP TO THE HAIRLESS

During his drive to clinch the Democratic nod, John Kerry has had his biography dissected. But one chapter remains largely unexamined. From 1979 to '82, Kerry was a Boston lawyer who developed a unique specialty: filing lawsuits against doctors who performed faulty hair implants on bald men. The cases involved a controversial procedure (later banned by the FDA) in which doctors implanted carpet fibers into men's scalps. "It looked pretty good for two or three months," says 65-year-old Charles DiPerri, a Massachusetts maitre d' who spent $2,800 on the procedure in 1978. But, soon afterward, the men's scalps rejected the implants and became massively infected. Kerry, then 38, took DiPerri's case before a jury in January 1982. "These doctors were ridiculously negligent, and Kerry just systematically proved that to us," says James Brooks, a juror on the week-long trial. After a few hours of deliberating, the jury awarded DiPerri $88,883.89. Doctors then settled more than a dozen other cases; the implant work appears to be among the most lucrative lawyering Kerry did before running for Massachusetts lieutenant governor later in 1982. Unlike John Edwards, who routinely touted his trial victories, Kerry has never tried to parlay his record as a champion of the bald into votes. That may be because the bald-headed appear to be a weak voting bloc: Americans haven't elected a bald president since Eisenhower.