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Illinois Supreme Court Revives $10B Tobacco Class Action

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By Jason Beahm on March 08, 2011 5:49 AM

The U.S. Fifth District has revived Price v. Philip Morris, a $10 billion class action lawsuit against Philip Morris, now part of Altria Group. The 2000 case began when the law firm Korein Tillery sued Philip Morris on behalf of Sharon Price, contending their light and low tar cigarettes were illegal under consumer fraud law.

The class members alleged that Philip Morris and Altria violated the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act by fraudulently advertising that their "light" cigarettes delivered less tar and nicotine than regular brands.

Philip Morris had contended that the two-year statute of limitations had passed. Presiding Judge Melissa Chapman along with Justices Bruce Stewart and James Wexstten disagreed. Chapman wrote that "we do not believe that the ends of justice would be served if trial courts were unable to grant relief under the unusual circumstances presented here," the Madison Record reports. Tillery refiled the case after a signicant U.S. Supreme Court case, Altria Group Inc. v. Good, in 2008 called the issue of statute of limitations into question.

Interestingly, Chapman said that they found only one case in Illinois that was on point, from an Illinois appellate court, which reached a different result. However, "this court is not obliged to follow the decisions of other districts of the appellate court," Chapman wrote.

Price v. Philip Morris is now sent back to the trial court in Madison County, Illinois. So will Altria appeal?

$10 billion says they will.

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