Court voids $10.1 billion verdict; Orders 'light' cigarette case dismissed

Belleville News-Democrat
Friday, December 16, 2005

A $10.1 billion verdict that added to Madison County's reputation as a haven for lawsuits was thrown out Thursday by the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled Philip Morris USA did not defraud consumers who bought "light" cigarettes.
The court ruled 4-2 to toss the verdict issued in 2003 by Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron and dismiss the case. Byron declined comment. 

Business groups praised the ruling, plaintiff attorney Stephen Tillery said he's considering an appeal, and the stock of Philip Morris' parent company jumped.
The court determined the Federal Trade Commission allows cigarette manufacturers to advertise brands as "light" and low in tar if the brands meet certain requirements. The FTC adopted a testing procedure in 1967 to measure tar and nicotine yields from cigarettes, so consumers could use the information to choose brands.

Philip Morris attorneys argued the company marketed the cigarettes according to FTC guidelines.

Amber Hard, a staff director for a consumer group, the New York-based Center for Justice and Democracy, said the ruling "is one more demonstration that Illinois courts are not 'broken' and that the legal system works. There is certainly no reason for politicians or politics to interfere with our civil justice system."

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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