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    Altria Lights Up On Ruling

    Supreme Court denies $10 billion appeal in lawsuit against Philip Morris.

    NEW YORK -- The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from misled "light" cigarette smokers, alleviating Altria Group's Philip Morris from a $10.1 billion penalty, Bloomberg News reported. This decision sides with a previous Illinois state court ruling that dismissed the case against Philip Morris.

    "It's clearly the end of lights litigation in Illinois,'' David Adelman, a Morgan Stanley analyst, told Bloomberg News. The rejection also will be "marginally helpful to the industry's ongoing management of the other outstanding or potential lights cases," he added.

    Because of the ruling, Altria will work to return the $6 billion note it placed in escrow during the appeals, the report stated.

    The Supreme Court could have restricted Altria's desire to break up its Kraft foods business segment. Recently, Altria CEO Louis Camilleri announced the company is ready to spin off Kraft, because of the decreasing risk of payouts by its Philip Morris unit, the report stated.

    Shares rose for the company on the New York Stock Exchange on news of the ruling, the report stated.

    While this is one step forward, the tobacco industry is still fighting a separate, nationwide class action suit by light cigarette smokers in New York, which concerns the federal racketeering law, Bloomberg News said.

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