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Philip Morris Fighting $10b Judgment — Again

A $10-billion lawsuit was back before the Illinois Supreme Court Tuesday. A group of smokers say Philip Morris defrauded them into thinking light cigarettes were safer than regular — but lost the case a decade ago. Now they’re hoping for another bite at the apple.Brian Mackey reports on Price v. Philip Morris: Part II.

The case was decided way back in 2005, when a sharply divided Illinois Supreme Court overturned the record $10-billion judgment. The justices ruled that the Federal Trade Commission had approved marketing “light” cigarettes as safer.

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

Except, a few years later, the FTC filed a brief in a different case saying it had not approved that marketing. The smokers convinced a lower court* to reinstate their case, and Philip Morris is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to step in.

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson once again argued for the tobacco company. He basically says once the courts finish with a case, it should be left alone.

"Surely this is not a game of musical chairs depending on who sits in the chairs of the FTC at any given time," Thompson says.

A lawyer for the smokers says his clients ought to be compensated.

Correction, May 19, 2015: An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized the court that reinstated the case. It was the Fifth District Appellate Court, not a trial court. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

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