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Florida Verdict Doesn't Deter Illinois Tobacco Suit

By Matt Sepic/KWMU

St. Louis – St. Louis lawyers who sued the Philip Morris tobacco company for consumer fraud say a class action verdict thrown out of court in Florida Wednesday will not deter them in the appeals process.

A Florida appellate court tossed out a $145 billion verdict against Philip Morris, saying the case should not have been given class-action status. The court also ruled the verdict violates Florida laws, because it could bankrupt the company.

Joy Howell, a spokeswoman for plaintiffs' attorney Stephen Tillery, says the cases are different.

"That case centered on a number of plaintiffs who had different varying degrees of health impact from smoking," Howell said. "Ours is purely a consumer fraud, deception by Philip Morris, case."

The tobacco giant is now appealing a $10.1 billion verdict a Madison County, Illinois judge awarded to 1.1 million Illinois smokers in March.

Philip Morris is appealing the case, saying it should not have been given class-action certification.

Tort-reform groups say Madison County has become a "magnet" for attorneys seeking big class-action judgments.


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