According to Law360, staff of the Federal Trade Commission urged the Commission to start trial on the $12.8 billion investment in Juul laboratory by April as scheduled.
The tobacco giant had asked for a three-month delay from April 12, and speculated that it would be safe to conduct a face-to-face trial by mid July. Due to the covid-19 crisis, the current April trial will take the form of an online trial.
Altria and Juul said the virtual hearing would weaken their lawyers’ ability to assess the credibility of witnesses.
In a filing with members of the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday, the FTC’s judges said it was “highly speculative” to expect a face-to-face, unrestricted lawsuit by July.
“While vaccine news is promising, the schedule for the chief administrative law judge and his staff, witnesses and lawyers to be vaccinated is very uncertain at the moment,” the staff said. Moreover, although the complaint lawyer shares the concerns of the respondent about the severity of the pandemic, these concerns can be remedied through virtual hearings. “
Altria shut down its e-cigarette business, paving the way for investment and eliminating competition in violation of antitrust laws in the process, according to the FTC case.