Testimony ends in lawsuit against Philip Morris
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Testimony has ended in the suburban St. Louis trial of a class-action lawsuit against Philip Morris, which is accused of defrauding smokers of "light" cigarettes.
Closing arguments will be given Monday, and attorneys for the plaintiffs say they will ask for a judgment of at least $21 billion.
Both sides will have three hours to address Madison County, Ill., Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron during the closing arguments. The judge has said he hopes to issue a verdict Monday.
Attorney Stephen Tillery, who represents the plaintiff class, said Thursday he plans to ask the judge to award $7.1 billion in compensatory damages to the class members.
Tillery also plans to ask the court to assess punitive damages against Philip Morris. Tillery said he hasn't decided yet on the amount he'll seek in punitive damages, but the request will be at least double the amount sought in compensatory damages.
The suit claims Philip Morris defrauded about 1.1 million Illinois smokers by leading them to believe Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights are less toxic than regular cigarettes. The plaintiff attorneys argue that light cigarettes actually are more harmful, in part because of the way people smoke them and because air vents on light cigarettes affect their toxicity.
Philip Morris attorneys argue that the company has never claimed light cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. Philip Morris claims the government labeled light cigarettes as being safer, based on government tests.
The company argues that smokers of light cigarettes shouldn't be awarded any money because light cigarettes cost the same as regular cigarettes.
The lawsuit does not seek compensation for smoking-related illness.