In re Wholesale Grocery Products Antitrust Litigation: class certification denied 7/26/2012

On July 26, 2012, the federal district court in Minnesota released a memorandum opinion and order denying the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and denying the defendants’ Daubert motion in the Wholesale Grocery Products Antitrust Litigation.  The opinion and order is available on the district court’s website at http://www.mnd.uscourts.gov/MDL-Wholesale/orders.shtml

As stated in the district court’s opinion: “Plaintiffs are retail grocers who allege Defendants SuperValu[, Inc.] and C&S [Wholesale Grocers, Inc.], two of the largest grocery product wholesalers (measured by sales volume) in the United States, conspired by way of an Asset Exchange Agreement (the ‘AEA’) to allocate territory and customers.  *   *   *   *  Through the AEA, C&S acquired all of SuperValu’s distribution centers, and the clients they served, in New England, and SuperValu acquired all of C&S’s distribution centers, and the clients they served, in the Midwest. . . .  The AEA included a non-compete provision wherein each Defendant agreed not to supply former customers served from a distribution center exchanged in the agreement for two years, and each Defendant agreed not to solicit those customers for a period of five years. . . .  Within eight months of the closing of the AEA, all the exchanged distribution centers were closed. . . .  Plaintiffs allege the purpose of the AEA was to allocate customers and territory in violation of federal antitrust laws. . . .  Plaintiffs aver the elimination of competition between SuperValu and C&S in regional markets allowed each to charge supracompetitive prices to retail customers.”  (Memo. Op. and Order, 7/26/12, at 2, 4-5.)

The district court denied class certification, finding that the plaintiffs had failed to establish that common issues predominate with respect to the impact of the alleged violations on the putative members of either of the two proposed classes, the New England Class and the Midwest Class.  (Memo. Op. and Order, 7/26/12, at 16.)

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2 responses to “In re Wholesale Grocery Products Antitrust Litigation: class certification denied 7/26/2012

  1. Is the lesson of too big to fail not learned? All of these tying relationships and leveraging of the economy into the hands of the few will have consequences. The American people will pay the price of federal courts not efficiently enforcing the anti-trust laws. We have already seen it in the financial industry. Our economy is being captured in the name of “efficiency” but the consequences far out weigh the benefits. We see it in a concentration of the economy and the wealth it produces. We don’t need new rules and regulations to solve this problem— federal courts need to enforce the existing laws instead of playing this game for the oligarchs.

    Creative destruction is necessary in the economy. Unfortunately the federal courts, by not enforcing the rules that make capitalism work for everyone in the economy, are picking the worst in the competition game– the cheaters. If there ever was fault to be laid for our squandering economy, it is with this ideology that runs through our politicians (they are being paid off but federal judges are supposed to be above that) and our federal courts. The oligarchs are at it again and the common welfare is suffering because of it. By not allowing juries to decide these questions, and instead keeping cases from juries, the federal courts are helping concentrate the wealth of capitalism to those who are breaking the rules on the books. The oligarchs have them wrapped around their little finger with the excuse of economic efficiency as the rallying cry. Sadamm Hussein ran an efficient government. The problem was that the efficiency was killing the interests of the common person.

    Every judge who has an anti-trust case should have to read “The Robber Barons” by Josephson so the people don’t have to pay for their mistake of not enforcing the rules that make capitalism work for the common man. All economic opportunities are being captured with the help of judges who don’t have the competence or courage to enforce the existing laws. We are doomed to repeat the hard lessons of history.

    Tom T.

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