Light cigarette class action litigation
The firm has for many years represented Philip Morris in defense of class actions alleging that the use of the term “lights” was misleading and seeking economic damages allegedly associated with the purchase of light cigarettes. This work has resulted in defeating class certification in a federal MDL and in dozens of federal and state trial level proceedings, as well as appellate wins in the Second Circuit and the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Most recently, we have assisted in securing victories before the Oregon Supreme Court in Pearson (2015) (co-lead counsel) and the Illinois Supreme Court in Price (2016, cert petition pending) (co-lead counsel). In addition, when certified these cases have the distinction of being among the rare class actions to go to trial. In April 2016, after two previous mistrials in 2011 and 2014, and after five weeks of trial, a jury took 15 minutes to return a complete defense verdict for Philip Morris in Larsen, a Missouri lights class action. Plaintiffs had sought US$1.8 billion in compensatory damages and multiples of that in punitives. In August 2016 a similar Arkansas lights class action is slated for trial. The firm has played a major role in the legal issues and other aspects of the defense of these and other lights class actions that have gone to trial.