Minnesota Supreme Court Tosses 'Light' Cigarette Case

On May 30, the Minnesota Supreme Court found in favor of Philip Morris USA, dismissing a class action involving “light” cigarettes. The court’s decision overturned an earlier appellate court ruling.

The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed the case on the grounds that a 1998 settlement of a case filed by the state’s attorney general released claims brought by smokers as private attorneys general under Minnesota’s consumer protection law. The case stems from a 2001 claim filed by Gregory Curtis on behalf of all smokers who bought Marlboro Lights in Minnesota since 1971. His lawsuit asserted that Philip Morris misled consumers by marketing the product as a safer cigarette.

“The Minnesota Supreme Court now joins with 14 courts in 15 ‘lights’ cases, which have rejected these claims on a variety of legal and factual grounds,” Murray Garnick, Altria senior vice president, said in a statement.

Munger, Tolles & Olson attorneys who worked on the case include Gregory P. Stone, Randall G. Sommer, Bethany W. Kristovich, Sean Eskovitz, Keith R. D. Hamilton, II, Benjamin J. Maro and Jeffrey Y. Wu.