Cigarette smokers lose unjust enrichment class action against Philip Morris

Posted on: September 9th, 2011 by Steve Larson

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of a class action lawsuit filed against Philip Morris, Incorporated (“Philip Morris”) and several other tobacco companies and tobacco-related entities (“defendants”) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  (The case is entitled Brian Cleary et al v. Phillip Morris Incorporated et al, Class Action Case No. 09-CV-1596).  The suit was brought on behalf of Illinois residents who bought or smoked cigarettes.  The complaint alleged that for years the tobacco companies conspired to conceal the facts about the addictive and dangerous nature of cigarettes by intentionally using incomplete, misleading, or untruthful marketing and advertising.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s holding in the Philip Morris Tobacco smoke class action lawsuit that the unjust enrichment claim, as alleged by the plaintiffs, was not viable since a violation of the consumer’s legal right to know about a product’s risks, without anything more, cannot support an unjust enrichment claim against the product’s manufacturer.