According to Bloomberg, the Illinois appellate court reinstated a class-action lawsuit against a cigarette maker, the case that led to a $10 billion verdict against Altria Group Inc.’s Philip Morris. The Fifth District Appellate Court of Illinois ruled to send the case back to trial court for further proceedings.
According to documents, the appellate ruling came only on the issue of the timelines of the law firm handling the case, when it filed an appeal to dismiss the case, after it acted under specific instructions by the Illinois Supreme Court. Philip Morris argued the plaintiff should not have the right to reopen the case as a two-year limit ran out on his petition. However, the appellate court sided with the plaintiff that the two-year rule started running when a former circuit judge carried out the Supreme Court’s order to dismiss the case.
The judge’s successor, Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth, is now in charge of determining whether the plaintiff’s petition alleges enough facts to require relief from the order dismissing the case.
The plaintiff sued Philip Morris alleging violations of the state consumer fraud law in marketing “light” and “low tar” cigarettes. The judge certified the class action lawsuit on behalf of three million smokers, held a bench trial and awarded $10 billion of damages claimed. The Illinois Supreme Court denied a direct appeal petitioned by Philip Morris and then granted it. The Justices ruled that the state consumer law excluded the claim. The plaintiff appealed for a rehearing but the Justices denied it. The Illinois Supreme Court issued a mandate to the judge, who then signed an order dismissing the case.
Stanley Iola – Dallas litigation lawyers