Cigarette Mistrial Boiled Down to Smokers v. Nonsmokers on Jury

smoking lounge.jpg
Smokers in the jury stood apart from the non-smoking colleagues.
A lawsuit that finally went to trial last month after wending its way though court for 11 years ended yesterday in a mistrial when the jury failed to deliver a verdict.

The class-action lawsuit accused tobacco giant Phillip Morris of deceiving customers in the marketing of its Marlboro Light cigarettes as a healthy alternative to its full-bodied Marlboro cigarettes. According to the plaintiffs, Phillip Morris knew that Marlboro Lights could be just as dangerous as regular cigarettes because smokers inhaled longer or more deeply to compensate for the lower nicotine.

The trial went on for a month before the jury began deliberations last week. The St. Louis daily and TV stations have all reported the basics of those deliberations with the jury deadlocked 8 to 4 in favor of the plaintiffs. In civil trials, 9 of the 12 jurors must side with a party for a legal victory.

But it's Missouri Lawyers Media that provides the most intriguing details from inside the jury. As Mo Lawyers reports, three of the four smokers on the jury sided with the plaintiffs believing that Phillip Morris had -- in fact -- deceived the public.

Non-smokers on the jury, however, voiced concerns that awarding the plaintiffs their request for at least $696 million in damages would -- in effect -- reward people for smoking. Ultimately the jury sent the judge a note, asking if they'd be bound to reward the amount the plaintiffs desired.

The plaintiff's attorney, Stephen Swedlow, said yesterday that he would ask for a new trial. The class-action suit covers any Missouri resident who bought and consumed Marlboro Lights from early 1995 to the end of 2002.


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6 comments
RegionalCitizen
RegionalCitizen

This case was not about the health risks of smoking. It was only about deceptive advertising. If a company misleads customers into buying a product by misrepresenting it as something it is not, that is rightly the subject of a lawsuit. The courts created class-action suits to allow consumers with small individual claims to take on huge companies with many millions to spend to defend their misconduct. In this case, the lawyers said Philip Morris unfairly made about $700 million by misrepresenting Marlboro Lights. Without cases like this, comapnies could mislead customers into buying products that don't perform as promised with no fear of being held accountable. That's the issue -- not the health risks of smoking.

HobiLabi
HobiLabi

As a recently naturalized citizen it still astonishes me to see just how anti-science Americans and their institutions are.  It has been established scientific fact for decades now that smoking in any form is harmful and negatively impacts health.  You would think that such a suit in the courts would've been thrown out with such overwhelming evidence and prior precendent but in our system of jurisprudence no one here is ever really responsible for their actions.

Apparently if you want to prove common sense, logic, and scientific fact in the U.S. you should bring lawsuits.

mntvernon
mntvernon

Like disregarding the SG warning, eh? This case got shot down because at least four of the jury wasn't fooled that anybody like Larsen can be so oblivious and then expect to be rewarded for their own stupidity! Nor was this twit:http://newyork.cbslocal.com/20...Face it, Swedlow and ilk of his kind.......Atticus Finch, he ain't!

Gregory Smith
Gregory Smith

Americans are not anti-Science, we are anti-Nanny State. I don't care if smoking, trans fats and salt are bad, it's MY BODY, MY CHOICE. As a recently naturalized American, I suggest you start listening to Rush Limbaugh, visit Reason.com, Townhall.com, and learn what America is really about.

http://libertarians4freedom.bl...

RegionalCitizen
RegionalCitizen

You're fixated on the health issue, which was not the issue here at all. The customers' conduct is not the issue. The jury voted 2 to 1 for the proposition that Philip Morris misrepresented the product and deceived customers. The jury fell one vote short of awarding damages to the customers. That proves that eight jurors weren't fooled by Philip Morris' attempt to defelct the issue from the real point of misrepresentation.

Mntvernon
Mntvernon

Health issue? Since when is Larsens cognitive failure to read one item on  a product while disregarding the other, a health issue? While 8 of the jurors fell for the plaintiffs 'song & dance' routine along with their prejudices against a popularly vilified entity with deep pockets, 4 stood firm against this stupid old hag and the insatiable avarice of her mouthpieces.Public disgust with well heeled companies, sleazy legal tricks, and pathetic plaintiffs are losing favor with juries as SSM recently found out.Everybody hates the phone company and AT&T got ripped off to the tune of $80 million with the plaintiffs clients getting $80 IN COUPONS while the shysters laughed all the way to the bank. Although it could be argued this court ordered monetary retribution provides consequences for corporate irresponsibility, right?I suppose CRAMMING is OK with you, right?   

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