Altria Takes Bond Case to Illinois Supreme Court

The cigarette company is trying to avoid reinstatement of a huge appeal bond.
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asked the Illinois Supreme Court to block a lower court's ruling that could force the company to cough up an enormous surety bond in a class-action consumer suit.

The company's Philip Morris USA unit wants the court to toss out a recent appellate decision that held that the trial judge in the original case lacked the authority to reduce the size of the bond. The company was initially ordered to post a $12 billion bond to secure the $10 billion trial judgment while it attempted to appeal the suit, but the trial judge subsequently halved the amount.

In a filing with the Illinois Supreme Court, Philip Morris USA also sought to block plaintiffs in the suit from collecting damages until the company had exhausted all of its appeal options. The suit was brought by smokers who said the company mislabeled "light" cigarettes.

The shares closed Friday at $40.28, up 45 cents, or 1.1%.