Wholesalers Choice?

Published in CSP Daily News

Judge rules in favor of PM USA in Wholesale Leaders case

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

In the suit, the plaintiffs alleged the company's programwhich gave participants the opportunity to earn higher payments based on the participant's market shareconstituted 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 to participate.

The court added: "PM [Philip Morris] does not dictate the choices these wholesalers make."

"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.

She added, 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.

The country's largest cigarette manufacturer, Richmond, Va.-based Philip Morris USA is an operating company of Altria Group Inc.