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Tobacco Firms Can Appeal Ruling

NEW YORK -- A U.S. district judge approved a motion from Philip Morris USA allowing major tobacco companies to appeal a May 21 decision that said cigarette makers must return past profits earned from advertising to minors, reported the Associated Press.

District Justice Gladys Kessler previously denied a motion to dismiss the ruling, after which the defendants asked to question an appellate court whether disgorgement --revoking of past profits -- is the appropriate remedy in the Department of Justice's lawsuit.

In its lawsuit, the Justice department claims tobacco companies received ill-gotten gains in the past, and should return the money to prevent future wrongdoings.

The government has brought claims against the industry's largest tobacco manufacturers, whose stock prices rose on news of the decision. Shares of Altria Group Inc., Philip Morris' parent company, rose 5.4 percent to $50.40, while shares of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. rose 1.6 percent to $67.88 during early-morning activity on the New York Stock Exchange.

Philip Morris said the defendants have 10 days to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
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