Back to Drawing Board for Light Cigarette Suit

     EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (CN) – A lawsuit that resulted in a $10.1 billion judgment against cigarette giant Philip Morris appears to be headed back to Madison County Circuit Court.
     The plaintiffs claim that Philip Morris, now the Altria Group, misled consumers by advertising that certain brands of its cigarettes were “light” and contained “lowered tar and nicotine.” Represented by St. Louis-based lawyer Stephen Tillery, they say Philip Morris knew that Marlboro Lights were not safer and might even be more dangerous to a smoker’s health.
     Judge Nicholas Byron in Madison issued a $10.1 billion award of compensatory and punitive damages against Philip Morris in 2003. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed that award in 2005, however, finding that the Federal Trade Commission specifically authorized Philip Morris’ advertising terms “light” and “lowered tar and nicotine.”
     But the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed on that count in 2008.
     The circuit court initially denied Tillery’s petition to reinstate the case, but the 5th District Appellate Court reversed in February.
     In a one-sentence ruling Wednesday, the Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear the tobacco company’s appeal of that decision, apparently reviving the case in Madison County.

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