SAN FRANCISCO — Three major Southern California chains that signed a mutual strike assistance agreement in 2003 must face an antitrust lawsuit by the state of California, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit here has ruled. That decision overturned a lower court ruling in 2004. The three chains are Ralphs, a division of Kroger Co., Cincinnati; Vons, a division of Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif.; and Albertsons, which was an independent chain in 2003 but is now a division of ...

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