I am writing to strongly endorse the appeal-bond reform movement that has resulted in reforms in other state legislatures and has become a major issue here in Illinois following the Price v. Philip Morris decision on March 21.
Illinois’ outdated and profoundly dysfunctional appeal bond requirement is undermining basic defendant’s rights as well as putting at risk state revenues that were to come from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, both here in Illinois and nationally. Philip Morris’s mid-April payments to 46 states under the MSA, including Illinois’ expected $119 million, are now at risk.
Following the Madison County court decision, the nation’s leading bond-rating agencies have placed Altria, Philip Morris USA, and Kraft Foods on credit watches. Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the bonds of Altria and Philip Morris to three notches above junk status.
Today’s Wall Street Journal and New York Times feature articles on the impact of this decision to Kraft Foods, a century-old Chicago-based company and leading employer in our region.
These facts call for immediate action. I urge the members of the Illinois General Assembly to move swiftly on appeal bond reform. This is a pivotal issue in the state’s current budget crisis and an important part of legal reform for Illinois. Please do not hesitate to call me for additional information or to discuss this important issue.
Joseph L. Bast is president of The Heartland Institute. His email address is [email protected].