Miles (Price)
v Philip Morris

US Third Circuit Court Illinois
The Honorable Nicholas G. Byron presiding

Filed 2000

This case addressed “light cigarette fraud”. It was later renamed to “Price v. Philip Morris Inc.”

Plaintiff Attorneys: Carr, Korein, Tillery, Kunin, Montroy, Cates,  Katz & Glass, LLC (Stephen M. Tillery); Newman & Bronson (Mark I. Bronson); Finkelstein, Thompson & Loughran  (William P. Butterfield); Sheller, Ludwig & Badey (Stephen Sheller); William, Cuker & Berezofsky (Esther Berezofsky);  Smoger & Associates, P.C. (Gerson H. Smoger); Bonnet, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint (Van Bunch)

Timeline

  • 2000 – February 10: Case filed
  • 2001 – February 14: Class certified
  • 2003 – January 17: Trial begins
  • 2003 – March 21: Bench verdict issued for plaintiff – $10.1 Billion including punitive damages
  • 2003 – October 16: Illinois Supreme Courtreduces bond required of defendant before they could appeal from $12 billion to $6.9 billion. The court also granted Philip Morris’s direct appeal of the verdict on the merits.
  • 2005 – December 15: Illinois Supreme Court reverses damages and remands case, finding that the action was barred by the Consumer Fraud Act.
  • 2006 – May 5: Court denies a motion for rehearing.
  • 2006 – November 27: US Supreme Court denies certiorari.
  • 2006 – December 18: Judge Byron enters a judgment in favor of the defendants and dismisses the case.
  • 2007 – May: Plaintiffs petition Judge Byron to reinstate the suit based on statements by the Department of Justice to the effect that the government had not endorsed the use of the term “light”.
  • 2008 – U.S. Supreme Court: FTC ruling update allows case to go forward
  • 2014 – Case is reinstated in Madison County

“Philip Morris intentionally marketed Marlboro Lights with the descriptor “Lights” and the representation “Lowered Tar and Nicotine” on every package of Marlboro Lights with the intention of communicating to consumers that the Marlboro Lights cigarette was less harmful or safer than a regular Marlboro cigarette.”
Circuit Court, Third Judicial Circuit, Madison County, Il.

Narrative

This class action suit was brought by representative plaintiffs Susan Miles, Linda J. McHatton, Sharon Price, and Michael Fruth against Philip Morris on February 10, 2000.

The class was defined as:

“All persons who purchased and consumed Defendant’s Cambridge Lights and Marlboro Lights cigarettes in Illinois for personal consumption… but who do not have a claim for personal injury resulting from the purchase or consumption of cigarettes between the first date the Defendant placed its Cambridge Lights and Marlboro Lights cigarettes into the stream of commerce through the date the Court certifies this suit as a class action.”

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant’s light cigarettes did not contain significantly less tar and nicotine than regular cigarettes, as they claimed. Any person buying light cigarettes did not get what the defendants advertised. The defendant intentionally manipulated the design of the cigarettes to maximize nicotine delivery while at the same time produce lower machine-measured levels of tar and nicotine. The plaintiffs claimed violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The plaintiffs sought damages limited to the purchase price of certain light cigarettes.

See news accounts of this case.

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