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High court declines review, ends historic Philip Morris case that began in Madison County


The United States Supreme Court on Monday ended a long-running legal battle that began in earnest after a $10.1 billion judgment against a tobacco company over “light cigarette” marketing.

The court declined the plaintiffs’ petition for review in the Price vs. Philip Morris Inc. case.

In 2015, plaintiffs in the Price case failed to persuade the Illinois Supreme Court to reinstate the judgment against Philip Morris USA. Thereafter, plaintiffs — smokers who’d banded in the action — petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that court to order the recusal of one of the Illinois Supreme Court justices, Lloyd Karmeier, who they claimed had a conflict by participating in a case while also accepting campaign contributions from the industry involved.

“Today’s action by the U.S. Supreme Court effectively ends this case once and for all,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. “Almost 10 years ago this case was dismissed against Philip Morris USA, and, after countless hearings, motions and legal maneuvers by the plaintiffs to reinstate judgment, the outcome remains the same.”

The Price case began in 2000 and alleged that PM USA deceived Illinois smokers who purchased Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights cigarettes. The plaintiffs sought a refund of a portion of the purchase price.

After a three-month trial in 2003, a Madison County Circuit Court judge, Nicholas Byron, imposed a $10.1 billion judgment against Philip Morris. Plaintiffs since then have pursued multiple legal strategies in support of the judgment. The Illinois Supreme Court, however, overturned that judgment in 2005 and reaffirmed its decision in 2015.

The case is Price v. Philip Morris Inc., case number 15-947.  

                                                                                                                             — From the Illinois Business Journal

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