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Is Illinois Part of Tobacco Industry Class Action?

Written by Ankin Law Office

Several states, including Illinois, are part of massive litigation against several tobacco giants. Pursuant to a 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with 46 states, including Illinois, various tobacco companies are required to pay $206 billion to the states to reimburse them for health care costs incurred as a result of tobacco-related medical conditions.

Despite the existence of the Master Settlement Agreement, disputes continue between the tobacco manufacturers and the states. For instance, in 2011, the tobacco manufacturers disputed the payment of more than $7 billion under the Master Settlement Agreement for the years 2003 to 2010. But, as we recently reported, the parties may have finally settled their differences and some states might soon see a significant portion of the settlement.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, a federal arbitration panel approved a binding agreement between the top three U.S. tobacco manufacturers and 17 states that will apply a new method for determining payments under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, whereby approximately $108 million in payments to North Carolina will be unfrozen and 17 states will receive their portion of more than $4 billion from the tobacco companies’ escrow accounts. Illinois was not part of this most recent settlement, however.

Illinois and the other states that did not participate in this most recent settlement will remain in separate arbitration that is expected to conclude by the end of 2013.

As we reported last December, an Illinois judge refused to reopen a class-action lawsuit that resulted in the reversal of a $10.1 billion verdict against cigarette-maker Philip Morris. In 2003, a judge had found that Philip Morris misled customers about “light” and “low tar” cigarettes and, thereby, violated Illinois law by marketing these cigarettes as safer that other cigarettes.

The trial judge’s decision was subsequently thrown out by the Illinois Supreme Court, but plaintiffs sought to reopen the class-action lawsuit after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in December 2008 that smokers can use state consumer protection laws to sue cigarette makers for the way they promoted “light” and “low tar” brands. The district court judge’s refusal to reopen the case means that plaintiffs only option is to appeal the decision through the Illinois appellate courts.

The Chicago product liability law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC is committed to protecting consumers from dangerous and defective products through personal injury lawsuits or class action lawsuits. If you would like more information on Illinois tobacco class action lawsuits, do not hesitate to contact Ankin Law Office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago product liability lawyers.

Categories: Product Liability