Klein & Wilson

16-year-old case against Philip Morris USA finally decided

It's been 16 years since Philip Morris USA was first hit with a class-action lawsuit about using the terms "Lowered Tar and Nicotine" and "Lights" on their packages of cigarettes. A judge at the California Superior Court has issued a decision in the case and denied the plaintiffs any relief at all.

The lawsuit was filed back in June 1994. It alleged that the cigarette manufacturer violated the False Advertising and Unfair Competition laws in California. The plaintiffs wanted to recover money for people who bought Marlboro Lights cigarettes between 1998 and 2001. The plaintiffs were seeking as much as a billion in the lawsuit.

In his ruling, the judge said that there would be no restitution in the case. His decision was based on "the totality of the evidence including real world market data and the extensive absent class member testimony." In addition, the judge said that there was no evidence presented that would entitle the plaintiffs to "injunctive relief."

Because there have been changes to the law, Philip Morris can't use the descriptors anymore. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started regulating cigarettes and other tobacco products back in 2009 after the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Act was passed. The FDA prohibits the use of terms like "Lights" unless there is an authorization given for their use.

Business litigation lawsuits can be highly complex and require experienced attorneys to ensure a company's interests are protected. When allegations of unfair competition, unfair business practices, or deceptive trade practices occur, quick action is required to ensure a company's reputation is not damaged.

nasdaq.com, "California Superior Court Judge Rules For PM USA In "Lights" Class Action Case" No author given, Sep. 24, 2013

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