Los Angeles, Afederal judge in California has ruled that the state Attorney General may continue with an antitrust lawsuit against Albertson’s Inc., Kroger Co., and Safeway over a profit-sharing pact struck during a lengthy labor strike in fall 2003. Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s suit will charge that the three grocers struck an anti-competitive and illegal deal to share profits during the southern California labor strike that lasted more than four months and cost store owners an estimated $2 billion. The suit maintains that the pact hurt consumers by discouraging competitive pricing. When Lockyer filed the suit in February 2004, the chains argued that federal labor laws covering collective bargaining protected them from liability. However, the judge’s ruling has now cleared the way for the state to pursue the case.