Cleary v. Philip Morris USA

The plaintiffs represented three classes of individuals who brought suit against several tobacco companies for three separate claims of "unjust enrichment," which according the plaintiffs, allowed the named companies to benefit from the sale of tobacco products despite engaging in conduct that violated "justice, equity and good conscience." In particular, the plaintiffs claimed that (1) defendants engaged in a conspiracy to conceal information about the addictive nature of nicotine, (2) they unconscionably targeted minors for tobacco sales, and (3) they misled consumers by marketing "light" cigarettes as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes, despite their knowledge to the contrary. The plaintiffs sought to certify a class for each of these claims. In prior proceedings, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed the claim related to conspiracy to conceal the addictive nature of nicotine and granted summary judgment in favor of defendants on the claim related to youth marketing.  The Court declined to certify plaintiff classes for either of these claims.  In analyzing only the motion to certify the third plaintiff class, the Court found that the representative plaintiff lacked "typicality" with the rest of the class, insofar as he failed to demonstrate how the alleged concealment of knowledge about the harms of "light" cigarettes harmed him in particular. The Court denied the motion accordingly.


Cleary, et al. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al., 265 F.R.D. 289 (N.D. Ill. 2010).

  • United States
  • Feb 22, 2010
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division



  • Brian Cleary
  • Others similarly situated
  • Rita Burke

Defendant Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al

Legislation Cited

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