WBEZ | phillip morris http://www.wbez.org/tags/phillip-morris Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois Supreme Court hears $10B Phillip Morris appeal http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-supreme-court-hears-10b-phillip-morris-appeal-112054 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/6447341369_db970e431f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The fate of a $10.1 billion class-action judgment against the nation&#39;s largest cigarette maker is in the hands of justices at the Illinois Supreme Court, who heard oral arguments Tuesday in Phillip Morris USA&#39;s appeal to have the on-again, off-again verdict struck down.</p><p>The more than decade-old lawsuit &mdash; one of the nation&#39;s first to accuse a tobacco company of consumer fraud &mdash; claimed that Phillip Morris deceptively marketed &quot;light&quot; and &quot;low-tar&quot; cigarettes as a healthier alternative.</p><p>The initial Madison County trial ended in 2003 with the multibillion dollar verdict against Phillip Morris, a subsidiary of Virginia-based Altria Group Inc. The state&#39;s high court threw it out in 2005 only to have Illinois&#39; 5th District Appellate Court reinstate the verdict last year.</p><p>An attorney representing the hundreds of thousands of Illinois smokers asked the panel Tuesday to reject Phillip Morris&#39; appeal and let the judgment stand. David Frederick said the cigarette giant had carried out a &quot;massive fraud&quot; that &quot;light&quot; cigarettes &quot;were safer or healthier.&quot;</p><p>But former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, one of two lawyers representing Phillip Morris during the 50-minute hearing, argued that the Illinois Supreme Court got it right ten years ago when it decided to jettison the trial court&#39;s verdict.</p><p>&quot;And that judgment is correct today,&quot; he said.</p><p>The core dispute has been whether the Federal Trade Commission allowed cigarette makers to label cigarettes &quot;light&quot; and &quot;low-tar,&quot; effectively shielding Phillip Morris from such suits. Phillip Morris says the FTC did give it permission to label cigarettes that way. But plaintiffs argued FTC didn&#39;t give its OK and it alleges that an agency decision in recent years confirmed that interpretation.</p><p>Thompson, though, said plaintiffs shouldn&#39;t be allowed to offer up new evidence of federal regulators&#39; intent so many years later.</p><p>&quot;Surely this is not a game of musical chairs depending on who sits in the chair of the FTC at any time,&quot; he said at the hearing.</p><p>The lawsuit sought compensation, not for damage to a smoker&#39;s health, but for the money they paid for what they thought were safer cigarettes based on the Phillip Morris advertising.</p><p>The hearing was held in Springfield and also broadcast live online. A ruling is likely to take at least several weeks.</p><p>Lloyd Karmeier was among the justices on Tuesday&#39;s panel. The plaintiffs had asked him to recuse himself because they say there could be a perception of bias in favor of Phillip Morris, based on reports the company gave money to groups backing his election to the bench.</p><p>In a 16-page explanation last year for why he wouldn&#39;t take himself off the case, Karmeier said the plaintiffs&#39; attorneys had offered no evidence to support a view he couldn&#39;t be even-handed.</p><p>&quot;Rumor, speculation, belief, conclusion, suspicion, opinion or similar non-factual matter are not sufficient,&quot; he wrote.</p></p> Tue, 19 May 2015 16:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-supreme-court-hears-10b-phillip-morris-appeal-112054 Illinois judge rejects bid to revive cigarette lawsuit http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-judge-rejects-bid-revive-cigarette-lawsuit-104364 <p><p>An Illinois judge has refused to reopen a class-action lawsuit that produced a $10.1 billion verdict against cigarette-maker Philip Morris, handing the plaintiffs their latest setback in legal action now more than a decade old.</p><p>It was not immediately clear Thursday whether Stephen Tillery, the St. Louis attorney who pursued the lawsuit involving so-called &quot;light&quot; and &quot;low tar&quot; cigarettes, would appeal Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth&#39;s ruling. Messages left with Tillery&#39;s office were not returned.</p><p>A now-retired Madison County judge found in 2003 that Philip Morris misled customers about &quot;light&quot; and &quot;low tar&quot; cigarettes and broke Illinois law by marketing them as safer. His decision ended a two-month trial that both sides said at the time was the nation&#39;s first involving a lawsuit accusing a tobacco company of consumer fraud.</p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court later threw out that verdict, saying the Federal Trade Commission allowed companies to characterize or label their cigarettes as &quot;light&quot; and &quot;low tar,&quot; so Philip Morris could not be held liable under state law even if such terms could be found false or misleading.</p><p>The U.S. Supreme Court let that ruling stand in late 2006, and Byron dismissed the case the next month. But in December 2008, the nation&#39;s high court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Maine residents that smokers may use state consumer protection laws to sue cigarette makers for the way they promote &quot;light&quot; and &quot;low tar&quot; brands.</p><p>An Illinois appellate court cleared the way last year for Tillery to argue that that ruling could be applied to reinstate the Illinois one. But Ruth ruled against Tillery on Wednesday, leaving it up to the attorney to take the matter to Illinois appellate courts, including the state&#39;s supreme court.</p><p>&quot;The trial court correctly recognized that the plaintiffs could not meet their burden of proof to reopen the judgment,&quot; Murray Garnick, senior vice president and associate general counsel for Altria Client Services, which represents Altria Group Inc. subsidiary Philip Morris USA, said in a statement. &quot;Specifically, the plaintiffs did not show that they would have been successful before the Illinois Supreme Court.&quot;</p><p>The class-action lawsuit involves 1.1 million people who bought &quot;light&quot; cigarettes in Illinois.</p></p> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 11:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-judge-rejects-bid-revive-cigarette-lawsuit-104364