Illinois Supreme Court Vacates Lower Court Ruling Attempting to Reinstate Prior “Lights” Judgment

RICHMOND, Va.--()--The Illinois Supreme Court today ruled in Philip Morris USA’s (PM USA) favor, vacating the appellate court ruling attempting to reinstate a multi-billion dollar judgment against the company in the dismissed Price case.

“Today’s action by the Illinois Supreme Court effectively wipes away the last seven years of court proceedings and requires the plaintiffs to start from scratch,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of PM USA. “The court held that the plaintiffs filed the wrong motion in the wrong court. Now to succeed, plaintiffs would have to file a new motion in the Illinois Supreme Court and convince at least four justices to recall their own order, which dismissed the case 10 years ago.”

The Price case began in 2000 and alleged that PM USA deceived Illinois smokers who purchased Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights cigarettes. The plaintiffs sought a refund of a portion of the purchase price. After a three-month trial in 2003, a Madison County Circuit Court judge imposed a $10.1 billion judgment against PM USA, with $1.7 billion going to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the award and dismissed the case two years later. Since then, the plaintiffs’ attorneys have sought to reopen the case on numerous occasions and reinstate the award, and in April 2014, they successfully persuaded an intermediate appellate court to do so.

On appeal from the company, the state’s highest court agreed to hear the case nearly a decade after rendering its first decision. During the May oral argument, the company outlined several reasons why the court should let its 2005 decision stand.

“PM USA has been very successful in defending these cases on a variety of legal grounds. In fact, most of these cases have been dismissed prior to trial,” added Garnick.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits the use of “lights” and other descriptors unless a manufacturer receives authorization to use the terms. The FDA began regulating tobacco products in 2009 with the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

The case is Price v. Philip Morris Incorporated, case number 00-L-112.

Take a closer look at Altria and its companies on altria.com.

Follow Altria on Twitter at @AltriaNews.

Contacts

Philip Morris USA
Media Relations
804-484-8897

Contacts

Philip Morris USA
Media Relations
804-484-8897