First Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Against Philip Morris in 'Lights' Class Action
In this case, and in other cases around the country, Philip Morrischallenged the claims on the ground that the Federal Cigarette Labeling andAdvertising Act and the FTC's actions preempted the state law claims broughtunder the Maine consumer protection statutes, essentially arguing that onlybranches of federal government could bring actions against the tobaccocompanies for deception. While the Maine district court dismissed the classaction suit on this basis in May 2006, Judge Jeffrey R. Howard, who wrote theunanimous opinion, said that Philip Morris' arguments were "unavailing."
In its 68 page opinion, Judge Howard also noted that despite PhilipMorris' contention that was a coherent federal policy that barred state law,low-tar claims, this was expressly contradicted by a Supreme Court filing bythe United States Solicitor General in 2006, which stated that the FTC "hasnever promulgated definitions of terms such as 'light' and 'low tar' and thatits previous statements purporting to define them "did not reflect an officialregulatory position."
Gerard Mantese, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, commented, "the Court ofAppeals categorically rejected Philip Morris' assertion that cigarettecompanies have an immunity for fraud," adding, "we now look forward topresenting the merits of this case to a Maine jury."
Mr. Mantese's firm, Mantese and Rossman, P.C., is also representingplaintiffs in "lights" class actions currently pending in Arkansas and NewMexico.
Link to Court Opinion:
SOURCE Mantese and Rossman, P.C.
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