Fairness in the American judicial system is important. Meritless lawsuits seriously strain the ability of American businesses to compete effectively. Excessive or unreasonable litigation can drain productivity, and hurt shareholders, business partners and employees.
We are part of a community of business organizations and coalitions that oppose legislation threatening our companies’ ability to defend against unfair or unfounded lawsuits. Our company advocates for legislation to enhance fairness where such legislation is needed. We advocate at both national and state levels for a judicial system that is fair to litigants.
Altria’s companies actively support state limits on the size of appeal bonds. Virtually every state requires defendants to post a bond in order to stay an adverse judgment while appealing the ruling. Historically, many states required the bond amount to equal or exceed the size of the judgment. Given the recent escalation in the size of damage awards, most states have reconsidered their bond cap requirements and have passed legislation or implemented judicial rule changes that limit the bond amount.
Unlimited bond requirements can coerce a defendant to settle. A multimillion or multibillion dollar verdict can prevent a company from posting a bond, forcing the company to settle the case or risk having its assets seized while an appeal is pending. Bond caps preserve a defendant’s right to an appeal while protecting the financial interests of both the plaintiff and the defendant during the appeal process.
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