Supreme Court to rule on Philip Morris case Thursday

Ann Knef Dec. 12, 2005, 8:54pm

The Illinois Supreme Court is expected to rule on the $10.1 billion Madison County bench verdict against Philip Morris USA on Thursday.

In Price v. Philip Morris, smokers claims they were duped into believing light cigarettes were safer than regular ones. The landmark judgment originated in Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron's courtroom in 2003.

Plaintiff's attorney Stephen Tillery of Korein Tillery in St. Louis, stands to earn $1.7 billion in legal fees if the verdict is upheld.

The appeal bypassed the appellate court and was accepted directly by the Illinois Supreme Court.

During oral arguments in November 2004, Chicago attorney Joseph Power, Jr. took the lead for plaintiffs.

Power's inclusion on the case ostensibly knocked Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas, a conservative Republican, off the bench.

Thomas, figured to be the most pro-business justice on the bench, recused himself because Power represents him in another matter.

Justice Lloyd Karmeier, a Republican elected to the Illinois Supreme Court last November, is expected to utter a pro-business voice in the decision.

For the verdict to be thrown out, at least four justices must favor overturning Judge Byron's decision.

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