The outlook for tobacco bond securitizations remains stable for the time being, said Fitch Ratings. The rating agency said this after the Supreme Court of Florida decided that several tobacco companies do not have to pay a $145 billion settlement stemming from a class-action lawsuit against them.

Last week, the court upheld the Third District Appeals Court decision of May 2003, to throw out a verdict from July 2000 against Altria Group, Reynolds American Inc., and Loews Corp. The Supreme Court of Florida called the punitive damages from the July 2000 verdict excessive, and said the original case was incorrectly certified as a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Florida's 300,000 to 700,000 Floridians who suffered the effects of smoking, according to the Associated Press.

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