Philip Morris ‘Light’ Cigarette Class Action Thrown Out

A class action against Altria Group Inc. (MO)’s Philip Morris over “light” cigarettes was thrown out on appeal by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which said the claims in the lawsuit were barred by a 1998 settlement.

The court ruled today that the settlement, in a separate case filed by the state’s attorney general in 1994, barred claims by smokers under Minnesota’s consumer protection law. The dismissed suit was filed in 2001 by Gregory Curtis on behalf of all smokers who had bought Philip Morris’s Marlboro Lights in Minnesota since 1971.

“We conclude that the 1998 settlement agreement entered into by the state AG and Philip Morris expressly released and barred respondents’ consumer protection claims,” Justice Christopher Dietzen wrote in an opinion today.

Curtis claimed Philip Morris misled consumers into believing that “light” cigarettes were less harmful than regular cigarettes. Altria, based in Richmond, Virginia, is the biggest U.S. cigarette maker.

The case is Curtis v. Altria Group Inc., A10-215, Minnesota Supreme Court (St. Paul).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in New York at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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