Philip Morris Cleared on $1.5B Smoking Case

     ST. LOUIS – A city jury found in favor of Philip Morris on Thursday in a $1.5 billion class action filed 16 years ago by cigarette smokers.
     The class claimed the tobacco giant deceived them into believing light cigarettes were safer than regular cigarettes. The lawsuit was first filed in 2000.
     The class claimed that light cigarette packages promised lower tar and nicotine but were made from the same tobacco as regular cigarettes, and were in fact more dangerous for consumers.
     Philip Morris lawyers argued that the cigarettes did contain less tobacco than Marlboro Reds, more ventilation and a longer filter.
     Jurors did not have to determine whether the class relied on the representations – just whether the deception occurred through “evil motive” or “reckless indifference to the rights of others,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
     There were no personal injury claims made by the class.
     This was the second time St. Louis jurors heard the case. In October 2011, a city jury announced they were deadlocked 8-4 on the side of the plaintiff. In Missouri, nine votes are needed for a civil verdict.
     The outcome would have affected Missouri smokers who bought and smoked Marlboro Lights between Feb. 14, 1995 and Dec. 31, 2003. About 700 million packs of those cigarettes were sold in Missouri during that time, the Post-Dispatch reported.

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