By Illinois Public Radio/KWMU
Springfield, Ill. – Former Illinois governor Jim Thompson is leading the push for lawmakers to help a major tobacco company.
A Madison County judge ruled last week that Philip Morris must pay billions in damages for portraying light cigarettes as a safer alternative than the regular kind. In order to appeal the ruling, the company must put $12 billion dollars in a so-called appeal bond, which is says is not possible.
Thompson, who is a lawyer for the tobacco companies, says lawmakers need to pass legislation to limit appeal bond amounts. Few companies, on hearing this news, would think seriously of coming to this state to do business if they were potentially subject to a mulit-billion dollar judgment of this kind, the former governor said.
But the St. Louis attorney who successfully sued Philip Morris says special legislation for the company is a bad idea.
Steve Tillory says a law to help Philip Morris and other tobacco companies would be unconstitutional.
This appeal bond limitation would only apply to the tobacco companies, not for defendants generally, Tillory said. There's no legitimate basis for singling out and benefiting the tobacco industry.
Tillory also says despite Governor Thompson's comments Philip Morris could afford to pay the full 12-billion dollar appeal bond.