PM USA Gets Refund

Court orders return of $2.15 billion securing Price bond

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois Supreme Court on Monday, with consent from both parties, ordered the return to Philip Morris USA of the approximately $2.15 billion in cash that the company put up in securing the appeal bond in the Price "lights" case.

PM USA is getting the finds back after the reversal of a $10.1 billion damage award against the company in an Illinois court, reported Bloomberg News. The Illinois Supreme Court ordered the return of the funds after declining last month to reconsider its decision to reverse its ruling in December, when [image-nocss] it overturned a decision by a lower court judge who said PM USA "intended to deceive consumers" into believing its Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights were safer than regular brands.

PM USA's obligations to deposit payments on the note and to pay administrative fees to the Madison County, Ill., clerk were also terminated by Monday's order, said the company.

The Richmond, Va.-based tobacco company and unit of New York City-based Altria Group Inc. said that a $6 billion note, which also secured the 2003 judgment, would be returned to the company if the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the plaintiffs' appeal. A decision is expected from the nation's highest court sometime this fall.

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