By Andrew Longstreth
NEW YORK, Jan 15 (Reuters) - A federal judge has ruled that
SuperValu Inc and C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc do not have to face
a trial over allegations that they conspired to overcharge
retail food businesses in the Midwest and New England.
U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery in Minneapolis ruled
that the plaintiffs in the case, retail grocery operators D&G
Inc and DeLuca's Market Corp, had not provided enough evidence
for a jury to reasonably find that the defendants violated
The case stemmed from a 2003 agreement between SuperValu and
C&S to exchange assets. C&S transferred three distribution
facilities in the Midwest to SuperValu which, in turn,
transferred three distribution facilities in New England to C&S.
The agreement also included provisions not to compete with each
other for customers served by the operations that were part of
the asset swap.
The plaintiffs claimed that the agreement was illegal and
that it allowed SuperValu and C&S to overcharge retail customers
in the Midwest and New England.
In her ruling on Friday, Montgomery found that the
plaintiffs had not shown that the agreement between SuperValu
and C&S hurt competition. In the Midwest, for instance, she
wrote that the plaintiffs were not able to dispute evidence by
the defendants that "customers seeking alternative sources for
their products found several other wholesale grocery
distributors willing and able to compete for their business."
Richard Drubel of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, an attorney for
the plaintiffs, said he did not think Montgomery's decision
would withstand an appeal, which he said he would pursue.
"I think the defendants put one over on the court," Drubel
The case is In re Wholesale Grocery Products Antitrust
Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, No.
For plaintiffs: Richard Drubel of Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
For SuperValu: Stephen Safranski of Robins, Kaplan, Miller &
For C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc: Charles Loughlin of Baker
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