Curtis, et al. v. Altria Group, Inc., et al.

U.S. Chamber argues class should be decertified (Minnesota Supreme Court)

NCLC's Position

NCLC asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to decertify a class of plaintiffs who allege that Altria deceptively marketed Marlboro Light cigarettes. In this case, a trial court presumed that Altria's statements about Marlboro Light cigarettes caused the plaintiffs to purchase and smoke the cigarettes. NCLC argued that Minnesota law does not support a presumption of causation. NCLC also argued that the trial court erred when it refused to consider Altria's evidence that Marlboro Light cigarettes contain less tar and nicotine than regular cigarettes. NCLC warned that the trial court's decision could threaten the ability of Minnesota businesses to protect themselves from expensive litigation.

In its second brief, NCLC urged the Minnesota Supreme Court to decertify the class of plaintiffs. NCLC warned that the lower decisions could threaten the ability of Minnesota businesses to protect themselves from expensive litigation. The rulings, if left to stand, will make it easier to certify class action lawsuits against any company that markets its products in Minnesota. 

Case Outcome

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, finding that because the state had unambiguously released all of its claims against the defendant company for past and future conduct, the plaintiffs who were suing under the same statutory provision were bound by the release the state had already agreed to which prevented any other derivative and representative claims.

Procedural History

Motion for leave to file brief filed 3/5/10. Motion for leave to file brief granted 3/18/10. Amicus brief filed 6/28/10. Decided 12/28/10. Review granted by Minnesota Supreme Court 3/15/11. Amicus brief filed with Minnesota Supreme Court 4/21/11.  Decided 5/30/12.

Case Documents