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Philip Morris USA Will Appeal The Fifth District Court Of Appeal’s Decision To Order Reinstatement Of Illinois “Lights” Judgment

Philip Morris USA (PM USA) said today that it will seek immediate review by the Illinois Supreme Court of today’s appellate court decision to order reinstatement of the 2003 judgment in the Price “Lights” case. While that review is pending, the appellate court decision is stayed automatically.

“Almost ten years ago the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the Price judgment as contrary to Illinois law,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of PM USA. “The Fifth District Court of Appeals’ decision today conflicts with that ruling and essentially overrules a decision of a higher court.”

“The law does not allow the Fifth District to reopen a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court based on speculation about the possible impact of subsequent events on the higher court’s ruling,” Garnick stated.

“In addition, the Fifth District erred in ordering reinstatement despite the fact that the Illinois Supreme Court previously raised other problems with the judgment, including whether the case was properly certified as a class action,” said Garnick.

The Illinois Supreme Court in 2005 overturned a $10.1 billion judgment against PM USA, which was imposed by former Madison County Circuit Judge Byron, sitting without a jury. The original case, filed in 2000, alleged that Illinois smokers were deceived in purchasing Marlboro “Lights” and Cambridge “Lights” cigarettes and, therefore, entitled to a refund.

“If the Illinois Supreme Court declines to review the case at this point, PM USA will pursue an appeal in the ordinary course, to which a $250 million bond cap would apply,” Garnick added.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now prohibits the use of “Lights” and other descriptors unless a manufacturer receives authorization to use the terms. The FDA began regulating tobacco products in 2009 with the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

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