Cigarette Makers Get Stay by Top Court on $270 Million Award

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia temporarily blocked a court order that would force the nation’s tobacco companies to spend more than $270 million on a Louisiana smoking cessation program.

Scalia today issued a stay of a Louisiana state court judgment while the Supreme Court decides whether to hear an appeal from companies including Altria Group Inc.’s Philip Morris USA and Reynolds American Inc.’s R.J. Reynolds. It extends a Sept. 14 stay that was also issued by Scalia.

The cigarette makers contend that the Louisiana courts improperly let the case go forward as a class action on behalf of all Louisiana smokers who want to participate in a cessation or medical monitoring program.

A 2004 jury verdict in the case was the first to require cigarette makers to pay to help smokers quit. The original award, $591 million, was reduced on appeal.

The judgment halted by the Supreme Court requires the companies to pay $242 million, plus $29 million in interest. The Louisiana Supreme Court refused to stay the award on Sept. 10.

The case is Philip Morris v. Scott, 10A273.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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