Posts tagged "1207017"

Geanacopoulos v. Philip Morris USA Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-070-17)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS SUFFOLK, ss. SUPERIOR COURT. 9884CV06002-BLS1 ____________________ THOMAS GEANACOPOULOS, on behalf of himself and a class v. PHILIP MORRIS USA INC. ____________________ MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR DISPOSITION OF RESIDUAL FUNDS Judge Leibensperger found after a lengthy bench trial that, “for more than twenty-eight years until 1999,” Philip Morris USA, Inc., “knowingly and willfully marketed Marlboro Lights as a cigarette less harmful or safer than Marlboro Reds without sufficient evidence to substantiate that claim.” Judge Leibensperger concluded that in so doing Philip Morris deliberately deceived Massachusetts consumers in violation of G.L. c. 93A. He awarded statutory damages of $ 25 per class member, or an estimated total of $ 4,942,500, plus prejudgment interest. The parties then entered into a settlement agreement to govern the distribution of this award to eligible class members. Philip Morris paid $ 15,273,815 to fund the settlement. Given the number of class members who have been identified, the parties expect that residual funds totaling roughly $ 6.8 million will be left in the settlement fund after the distribution of the statutory damages plus interest to each class member and the payment of all authorized expenses. Plaintiffs have asked the Court to approve distribution of the residual funds. The distribution of such residual funds in a class action is governed by Mass. R. Civ. P. 23(e). It provides that any such residual funds “shall be disbursed [a] to one or more nonprofit organizations or foundations (which may include nonprofit organizations that provide legal services to low income persons) which support projects that will benefit the class or similarly situated persons consistent with the objectives and purposes of the underlying causes of action on which relief was based, or [b] to the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee to support activities and programs that promote access to the civil justice system for low income residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” Rule 23(e)(2). This rule is similar in aim to common law cy pres doctrine, which governs the disposition of property dedicated for – 2 – charitable purposes where the original purposes had become impossible or impracticable.1 In their original motion, Plaintiffs asked that $ 1.6 million be distributed to each of four non-profit organizations or sets of programs—the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Massachusetts General Hospital Tobacco 21 and CEASE Programs, the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Tobacco Treatment and Research and Training, and Northeastern University’s Public Health Advocacy Institute—and that any remaining residual funds (which Plaintiffs estimated would amount to roughly $ 383,500) be distributed to the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee. After the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee objected to this proposal, the Plaintiffs and the Committee agreed upon an alternative recommendation. Plaintiffs and the Committee now […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 16, 2017 at 7:56 am

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