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Byline: Brian Louis
Dec. 16--Philip Morris USA Inc. won a major legal victory in Illinois yesterday in a decision that analysts said would benefit rival R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
In a long-awaited decision, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a $10 billion judgment against Philip Morris in a class-action case that alleged that the company deceived smokers into thinking "lights" cigarettes were safer than regular, full-flavor cigarettes. It also ordered the trial court to dismiss the case.
Two similar "lights" cases pending in Illinois against Reynolds Tobacco and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. would be dismissed because of the Philip Morris ruling, a senior Reynolds Tobacco official said. Reynolds Tobacco and Brown & Williamson merged last year.
Shares of Altria and Reynolds American Inc. have rallied this week in anticipation of a positive ruling for the industry. The performance of tobacco stocks have …