A U.S. Administrative Law Judge has dismissed the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) claims against Altria and Juul Labs arising out of Altria’s 2018 minority investment in Juul. Following a three-week trial, the judge found that the evidence failed to sustain the alleged violations.
The judge’s decision is subject to review by the FTC. Any decision by the FTC may be appealed to any U.S. Court of Appeals.
“We are pleased with this decision and have said all along that our minority investment in JUUL does not harm competition and does not violate the antitrust laws,” said Murray Garnick, executive vice president and general counsel of Altria, in a statement
In April 2020, the FTC issued an administrative complaint against Altria and Juul alleging that Altria’s 35 percent investment in Juul and the associated agreements constitute an unreasonable restraint of trade in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, and substantially lessened competition in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Antitrust Act.
A public version of the decision is expected to be made available late this month.