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Philip Morris avoids settlement in $700M lawsuit in mistrial

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A St. Louis Judge declared a mistrial in a $700 million marketing lawsuit involving Philip Morris USA, NPR reports.

The lawsuit, filed in 2000, accused Philip Morris of deceived its customers into thinking that light cigarettes were safer to smoke than standard cigarettes.

Although jurors voted in favor of the plaintiff, 8-4, nine votes were required to required to return the civil verdict under Missouri law, the news source states.

"After 11 years of pretrial proceedings and a month and a half of testimony, today's mistrial shows that the plaintiffs failed to convince a jury of their claims," said Murray Garnick, the company's associate general counsel. "We continue to believe that these claims are baseless and today's mistrial shows that we have powerful defense in these 'Lights' cases."

Stephen Swedlow, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement the jury clearly agreed the tobacco company misled its customers. He further mentioned he will continue to fight for the plaintiffs and eventually convince a ninth juror of Philip Morris' wrongdoing.

Although Philip Morris may have been unscathed financially by the outcome, professional liability insurance can protect marketing professionals in the case of false advertisement.  

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