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    Judge Dismisses Philip Morris Wholesale Leaders Case

    Ruling finds the company ¿nondiscriminatory¿ toward customers.

    RICHMOND, Va. -- A federal judge in Tennessee dismissed a lawsuit challenging Philip Morris USA's Wholesale Leaders program, the company reported.

    "We are pleased that the court granted our motion for summary judgment and agreed with our position that the lawsuit lacked merit," said Denise Keane, Philip Morris USA executive vice president and general counsel. "The Wholesale Leaders program is equally available to all of our wholesale customers. The court's ruling affirmed our belief that the program complied with the antitrust laws."

    In the suit, the plaintiffs alleged the company's program -- which gave participants the opportunity to earn higher payments based on the participant's market share -- constituted illegal price discrimination and violated federal antitrust laws. The court disagreed, finding instead that the program "is available to all customers using a nondiscriminatory formula" and that wholesalers were free to choose whether or not to participate. The court added that "Philip Morris does not dictate the choices these wholesalers make."

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