WASHINGTON -- States may have to pay out billions of dollars in refunds as a result of a recent Supreme Court decision on the arcane issue of retroactivity, legal analysts said last week.

The court's ruling in James B. Beam Distilling Co. v. Georgia could leave the states open to a massive refund liability ranging between $6 billion and $15 billion, according to some estimates. To Georgia alone, which already is facing a $400 million deficit, the decision could add $30 million to the red ink, the state's potential refund liability.

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