Billion-dollar tobacco suit back in court

Sept. 29, 2011 at 4:16 PM
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A $10.1 billion lawsuit against cigarette-maker Philip Morris is headed back to court after the Illinois Supreme Court declined an appeal by the company.

The lawsuit that produced an initial $10.1 billion judgment will go back to Madison County Circuit Court after the state Supreme Court declined Wednesday to hear the company's appeal of a lower-court ruling that revived the litigation, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

In 2003 a circuit court judge awarded $10.1 billion in compensatory and punitive damages after a two-month trial of a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Illinois smokers who claimed Philip Morris deceived consumers when it advertised that certain of its cigarette brands were "light" and contained "lowered tar and nicotine."

The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the judgment in 2005, finding that the company's use of the terms of "light, low or reduced" to describe cigarettes was authorized by the Federal Trade Commission.

But in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the FTC didn't authorize use of those terms.

In February the 5th District Appellate Court sent the case back to the circuit court for "further proceedings," a ruling appealed by Philip Morris, now Altria Group Inc.

In a one-sentence ruling the state Supreme Court declined to hear the company's appeal.

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