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Hung Jury in $700 Million Tobacco Trial

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A $696 million class action against tobacco giant Philip Morris ended in a mistrial Tuesday, due to a deadlocked jury. Jurors were split 8-4, one shy of the nine needed for a verdict in a civil case.

Jurors in St. Louis City Court deliberated for more than 4 days before indicating that some were unwilling to continue.

The jury could not agree whether Philip Morris deceived customers with its marketing of light cigarettes.

The complaint, filed 11 years ago, claimed that light cigarette packages promised lower tar and nicotine, but were made from the same tobacco as regular cigarettes.

Philip Morris attorneys claimed the cigarettes are different because they contain less tobacco, more ventilation and a longer filter.

Damages sought ranged from $696 million to $911 million, just over $1 a pack for the cigarettes at issue sold in Missouri from early 1995 through 2002, the period covered by the complaint.

Plaintiffs' attorney Stephen Swedlow told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he would ask for a new trial.

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