EDWARDSVILLE, Aug 22, 2012 (Belleville News)) — Plaintiff’s attorneys have asked Madison County courts to reinstate a $10.1 billion verdict against tobacco giant Philip Morris, despite an Illinois Supreme Court ruling against them.
Philip Morris lost a class-action suit in Madison County in 2003 with a $10.1 billion fine alleging consumer fraud over “light” cigarettes. The suit alleged that Philip Morris lied when it advertised light cigarettes as containing less tar and nicotine than regular cigarettes, when they said that light cigarettes were actually a greater health threat than regular cigarettes.
Philip Morris appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled in its favor in 2005. But a later suit included information that has sent the case bouncing back and forth between appellate courts for the last seven years.
Now attorney Stephen Tillery of the Korein Tillery law firm has asked Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth to reinstate the original verdict, alleging that Philip Morris attorneys misrepresented facts to the state Supreme Court.
Ruth took the issue under advisement after a day-long hearing.
According to a statement from Korein Tillery, the tobacco company told the state Supreme Court that the Federal Trade Commission had authorized its use of words like “light” and “low tar and nicotine.”
However, Tillery said the other lawsuit, Altria Group v. Good, included a brief from the FTC indicating they had never authorized those terms. That suit was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It’s time to hold Philip Morris accountable for its uniform deception, not only of the Illinois Supreme Court, but also of those consumers in Illinois who paid the ultimate price for believing they were smoking a safer product,” Tillery said.
Tillery said the judge would not have to overturn the state Supreme Court decision in order to reinstate the verdict of $10.1 billion.
Philip Morris attorneys argued that the FTC brief was not new evidence to warrant reinstating the verdict. Philip Morris representatives declined to comment