LA Times cheers Phillip Morris verdict

Stung by a major circulation decline following boycotts over its coverage of Israel and the Gray Davis recall, the Los Angeles Times is moving away from its ultra—liberalism, and enduring the loss of Barbra Streisands subscription.

Philip Morris' victory in Illinois' Supreme Court on Thursday is worth celebrating. The court dismissed a bogus $10—billion class—action suit that threatened not only the future of parent company Altria but, more important, America's values of due process.

When companies engage in fraudulent activity, they should have to pay for it, and sometimes the price they must pay will put them out of business. But in this suit, brought in the state's notoriously plaintiff—friendly Madison County, it was absurd for the trial judge to rule in the first place that Philip Morris had committed consumer fraud.

At issue was whether more than a million buyers of Marlboro Lights or Cambridge Lights had been defrauded by claims that the cigarettes contained lower levels of tar and nicotine. (A consumer fraud case is easier to certify as a large class—action suit than a case involving individual health claims.) In its 4—2 decision, the court ruled that such fraud couldn't possibly have occurred, given the amount of federal regulation of the marketing of such "light" cigarettes.

Ed Lasky  12 16 05

Stung by a major circulation decline following boycotts over its coverage of Israel and the Gray Davis recall, the Los Angeles Times is moving away from its ultra—liberalism, and enduring the loss of Barbra Streisands subscription.

Philip Morris' victory in Illinois' Supreme Court on Thursday is worth celebrating. The court dismissed a bogus $10—billion class—action suit that threatened not only the future of parent company Altria but, more important, America's values of due process.

When companies engage in fraudulent activity, they should have to pay for it, and sometimes the price they must pay will put them out of business. But in this suit, brought in the state's notoriously plaintiff—friendly Madison County, it was absurd for the trial judge to rule in the first place that Philip Morris had committed consumer fraud.

At issue was whether more than a million buyers of Marlboro Lights or Cambridge Lights had been defrauded by claims that the cigarettes contained lower levels of tar and nicotine. (A consumer fraud case is easier to certify as a large class—action suit than a case involving individual health claims.) In its 4—2 decision, the court ruled that such fraud couldn't possibly have occurred, given the amount of federal regulation of the marketing of such "light" cigarettes.

Ed Lasky  12 16 05