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Altria says judge has dismissed lawsuit over Juul investment
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Tobacco giant Altria said Tuesday that an administrative law judge has dismissed a federal lawsuit alleging the company's partnership with e-cigarette maker Juul Labs amounted to an anticompetitive agreement that hurt consumers.
The preliminary decision by the agency judge is subject to review by the Federal Trade Commission and will likely be appealed. The judge's ruling was not immediately available at the time of Altria’s announcement. The company, whose brands include Marlboro cigarettes and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco, said it is expected to be posted online later this month
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The Federal Trade Commission sued in 2020 to break up Altria's pact with Juul, the embattled vaping company at the center of numerous government investigations and lawsuits over underage vaping. The FTC's case is separate from that issue and alleged that Altria's 2018 stake in the startup violated anticompetitive laws.
If the decision stands it will allow Altria to continue profiting from sales of Juul e-cigarettes. For its part, Juul received legal, regulatory and marketing assistance from Altria under the deal.
Still, e-cigarettes represent a diminishing part of Altria's future prospe