Altria Drops After Illinois Appeals Court Ruling

The court says a trial judge shouldn't have lowered the bond amount Philip Morris USA was ordered to post.
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Altria

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were dropping Tuesday morning after an Illinois appellate court ruled that a trial judge didn't have the authority to reduce a bond Philip Morris USA was ordered to post to stay enforcement of a $10.1 billion judgment against the company.

Recently, shares of Altria were down $2.82, or 6.7%, at $39.14 on the

New York Stock Exchange

.

The Illinois Fifth District Court of Appeals on Monday sent the issue back to the trial court for further consideration. Madison County Circuit Court Judge Nicholas Byron initially ordered Phillip Morris to post a $12 billion bond in order to stay enforcement of a $10.1 billion verdict against the company, but he later reduced that amount.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs appealed the bond order because they said it was insufficient to protect their financial interests during the course of the appeal and that Judge Byron lacked the power to reduce the bond.

"Neither Philip Morris USA nor any other company in this country can secure a $12 billion bond to stay enforcement of a $10.1 billion judgment," William S. Ohlemeyer, Philip Morris USA vice president and associate general counsel, said in a press release. "The entire bonding capacity in the United States is a fraction of that amount."

The company will ask the Illinois Supreme Court to review the Fifth District Court's decision as soon as possible.

Also Monday, a judge in Nevada denied class-action certification in five cases filed by smokers against Philip Morris USA. "The Court examined the issues and agreed that the law simply does not permit smoking cases to be tried as class actions," Ohlemeyer said in a statement.