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$10 Billion Verdict against Altria Group Reinstated

The tobacco case that led to a $10 billion verdict against cigarette maker Altria Group Inc.’s Philip Morris unit in a class-action lawsuit has been reinstated by an Illinois appellate court, a law firm said.

The Fifth District Appellate Court of Illinois on Feb. 24 sent the case back to trial court in Madison County, Illinois, for further proceedings, according to a press release sent by Korein Tillery, the law firm that brought the class-action suit.

“The Appellate Court ruling came only on the issue of the timeliness of Korein Tillery’s appeal of the dismissal of the case by the trial court in 2006 when it acted under specific instructions by the Illinois Supreme Court,” according to the statement.

Illinois’s top court, in its December 2005 ruling, found that state law didn’t permit the suit because the Federal Trade Commission authorized cigarette makers to market their products as “light” or “low-tar.” Madison County Judge Nicholas Byron found in March of 2003 that Philip Morris, a unit of Richmond, Virginia-based Altria, misled Illinois smokers about the risks of light cigarettes and awarded $10.1 billion in damages.

The case is Price v. Philip Morris Inc., 96236, Supreme Court of Illinois.