Federal Court Denies Class Certification in Four “Lights” Cigarettes Cases in Multi-District Litigation..

February 23, 2011 - Philip Morris USA (PM USA) said a federal appeals court today appropriately denied review of a Nov. 24 trial judge's decision denying class certification in four "lights" cases. In denying further review, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its decision, "Even assuming that the denial of class certification threatens to end the litigation, we conclude that the district court's certification analysis is not sufficiently questionable to warrant interlocutory review."

"Federal courts have unanimously rejected class action status in these cases," said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of PM USA. "It simply is not possible to resolve these claims without determining why an individual smoker decided to purchase 'Light' cigarettes. There are numerous individual issues that render a class action unsuitable for resolving this type of case."

In its ruling, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it declined to review a Nov. 24 decision of a district judge that denied class certification in four cases that were selected as sample cases for larger group of "Lights" cases pending across the country.

In denying class certification, the district court stated, "Each state's class effectively includes everyone who purchased light cigarettes in the respective limitations periods, and this group necessarily includes class members who knew light cigarettes were not healthier than other cigarettes, notwithstanding Defendants alleged representations to the contrary. Those class members were not injured by the Defendants' misconduct and thus do not have standing. Furthermore, in view of the proliferation of information decrying the health risks of all cigarettes, there is no telling how many potential class members are similarly situated."

The case is In re Light Cigarette Marketing Sales Practices Litigation, a Multi-District Litigation in which pretrial proceedings in various "Lights" cases are being coordinated in the U.S. District Court in Maine.

Reference: Philip Morris USA Says Appeals Court Denies Review of Class Action Ruling in 'Lights' Cases", Source: Philip Morris USA, 2/22/2011.