UST Appeals Ruling

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UST Appeals Ruling

HARTFORD, Conn. -- UST Inc., maker of Skoal and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco, will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a $1 billion antitrust judgment against the Greenwich, Conn.-based company.

Company officials said the decision follows a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The court, which upheld the judgment in May, rejected UST's request for another hearing in the case Friday, the Associated Press reported.

A federal jury in Kentucky in 2000 ordered UST to pay $350 million to rival Conwood Co., which had accused UST of misleading retailers to secure prime display space. Conwood, whose snuff brands include Kodiak and Cougar, claimed UST sales staff obscured competitors' brands or removed their display racks, the report said.

Under federal antitrust laws, the jury's award was automatically tripled to $1.05 billion.

"We continue to believe that the judgment is inconsistent with applicable law and we will continue our efforts to seek a reversal," Vincent Gierer, UST?s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

On Monday, Richmond, Va.-based Swedish Match North America said it had filed a similar lawsuit against UST in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

Swedish Match North America, whose parent company is based in Stockholm, makes Red Man chewing tobacco, Timber Wolf snuff, Cricket lighters and other tobacco-related products.

Swedish Match is seeking a permanent injunction and alleges that UST has used illegal tactics to suppress competition, raise prices and stifle innovation, the report said.

Gierer said UST was going to "vigorously" defend itself in the Swedish Match case. He called the lawsuit "unfortunate and unwarranted."