Massachusetts 'Lights' Class Action Decertified
BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 27, 2003--A justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court today decertified a 'lights' class action alleging Philip Morris USA improperly marketed Marlboro Lights cigarettes. The liability and damages theories were similar to tho
The decision came in the Aspinall case, which was certified as a class action on October 11, 2001.
In today's decision, Justice Janis M. Berry ruled that the trial judge should not have certified the case as a class action. Said Justice Berry, "Contrary to the determination reached by the lower court, individualized factors in this case defy class certification in the manner that was done here."
"Today's decision is in line with the vast majority of state and federal courts that have determined that the law simply doesn't allow smoking cases to be fairly tried as class action cases," said William S. Ohlemeyer, vice president and associate general counsel, Philip Morris USA. "We look forward to making the same arguments before the appellate court in Illinois, which will soon review the Price class action case.
"We feel strongly that the case in Illinois should not have been certified as a class action and the trial was the result of an unfair procedure."
Philip Morris USA has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to accept a direct appeal of the $10.1 billion verdict in the Price case. The court is expected to decide soon whether to accept the direct appeal, which would bypass the state's intermediate appellate court.
Last week, an appeals court in Miami reversed and decertified the Engle class action case, which produced a $145 billion judgment. The court held that the class did not meet the legal requirements for certification.
Today's decision came under a provision of Massachusetts law that allows a review of class certification decisions in advance of trial.
One other case involving "light" cigarettes, the Hines case in Florida, has been certified as a class action. That class certification is also under review by an appellate court.