Philip Morris Presents Arguments in Appeal of Illinois Verdict
Attorneys for Philip Morris USA on Wednesday told the Illinois Supreme Court that the company did not mislead consumers about the risks of "light" cigarettes in an appeal of a $10.1 billion consumer fraud verdict, the AP/Lexington Herald-Leader reports (Wills, AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 11/11). In March 2003, Madison County, Ill., Circuit Court Judge Nicholas Byron ruled that Philip Morris misled consumers about the health risks of light cigarettes and ordered the company to pay $10.1 billion in damages. Illinois law required the company to pay a $12 billion bond to file an appeal; Philip Morris officials said that the bond payment would force the company to file for bankruptcy.
After subsequent court decisions related to the bond payment, the Illinois Supreme Court in September ruled that Philip Morris must pay $6.8 billion, rather than $12 billion, to appeal the verdict and also agreed to hear the appeal of the March decision (California Healthline, 12/11/03). In oral arguments, Philip Morris Attorney James Thompson said that smokers received a lighter flavor from "light" cigarettes manufactured by the company and lower tar and nicotine content from "low tar" cigarettes. He added that Philip Morris is not responsible for smokers who took longer puffs or smoked more cigarettes and negated the health benefits of the products (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 11/11).