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US: Small grocers obtain class certification in antitrust fight

 |  May 24, 2014

Small grocery stores have reportedly obtained class certification in their antitrust lawsuit against supermarket giants SuperVlu and C&S Wholesale Grocers.

A lawsuit was initiated against the nation’s largest grocery wholesalers following their agreement to exchange geographical assets; SuperValu obtained Midwest strength, while C&S grew in New England. The agreement was reached in 2003.

But D&G brought a class action against the wholesalers, disputing their Midwest agreement. Other plaintiffs filed similar cases across the nation since the initial 2009 filing, reports say, leading to a consolidation of the cases in Minneapolis. A federal judge did not grand the plaintiffs class certification, however, and initially defendant the grocery wholesaler’s argument that plaintiffs failed to adequately demonstrate injury and define a relevant market.

But the 8th Circuit appellate court reversed the earlier court’s ruling last week, reports say, on the grounds that there is a question of whether a per say violation of antitrust law occurred.

”Tellingly, although the written non-compete agreement permitted the wholesalers to compete in each other’s regions for the new and existing customers, neither one actually did so,” Chief Judge William Jay Riley wrote, also citing email exchanges between SuperVlu and C&S’s executives seemingly revealing anticompetitive agreements between the two. The 8th Circuit granted the plaintiffs a narrower class certification that only involves SuperValu customers, reports say.

Full content: Courthouse News Service

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