Supervalu Antitrust Lawsuit Dismissed
A federal judge has dismissed a 2009 antitrust lawsuit against Minneapolis-based Supervalu Inc. in which a New England grocer alleged the grocery distributor engaged in price-fixing activities.
U.S. District Judge Ann D. Montgomery of the District of Minnesota issued a summary judgment dismissing the action and refused to revisit her July 2012 decision to deny class certification in the case, citing lack of evidence in both rulings.
“We are pleased by this result for our client, which ends more than four years of litigation on a matter that was without merit from the start,” Stephen P. Safranski, lead trial counsel to Supervalu, said in a statement released by law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi.
The lawsuit suit arose out of an antitrust challenge brought by several grocery retailers to a 2003 asset exchange agreement between Supervalu and Keene, N.H.-based C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc.
In June 2009, Supervalu and C&S were sued by single-store Boston grocer DeLuca’s Corp., which alleged that the distributors plotted “to allocate markets, customers and territories,” which resulted in price-fixing in New England and part of the Midwest.
The lawsuit alleged the distributors once vied for customers in New England, but shortly after C&S bought operations once run by defunct wholesaler Fleming Cos. Inc. in 2003, C&S and Supervalu agreed that Supervalu would pull out of New England if C&S wouldn’t enter the Midwest, according to published reports.
C&S purchased Supervalu’s New England operations, including facilities in Portland, Maine; Andover, Mass.; and Cranston, R.I., while Supervalu acquired C&S’s Wisconsin DCs.
The lawsuit claimed that the transaction led to raised prices and a subsequent lack of competition in the six New England states as well as in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.