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W.Va. Wine Distributors Allege Unfair Competition

Wojtek Szkutnik

Six wine distributors in West Virginia have sued Minnesota-based Johnson Brothers Liquor Co. and the state operation it acquired last year, alleging they have tried to monopolize the state's wine distribution market.

The suit filed in state court claims Mountain State Beverage acquired more than half of the market over the past six years using anti-competitive practices, including operating at a loss to drive competitors out and paying fees to induce suppliers to cut off competitors.

The smaller distributors allege Johnson Brothers took majority control last year and pressed its remaining competitors to sell their businesses at low prices.

A call to Johnson Brothers was not immediately returned Monday.

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