Favorable Judgement Issued for Edgeworth Client in Antitrust Class Action

In 2009, plaintiffs sued C&S Wholesale Grocers and SuperValu for allegedly agreeing not to compete for retail grocery customers in the Midwest and New England. In April 2018, after a 9-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of C&S, finding that Midwest Plaintiffs had not proven that C&S and SuperValu were competitors who agreed to allocate territories and customers. In the New England portion of the case, an Edgeworth Economics team—led by Partner Dr. Parker Normann and Principal Consultant Karuna Batcha—was retained on behalf of wholesale grocery distributor SuperValu.

The New England plaintiff claimed that the territorial allocation caused it to pay higher prices because C&S no longer had to engage in intense price competition with SuperValu in New England. Dr. Normann submitted an expert report that demonstrated fundamental flaws with the methodologies used to reach such conclusions. The plaintiff’s methodology assumed that the prices paid by New England independent retailers would have followed the same trajectory as the “benchmark” chosen by their expert had the territorial allocation not occurred. Dr. Normann’s report showed that the plaintiff failed to establish a correlation between the prices paid by the independent grocers in New England and the chosen “benchmark,” rendering the model unreliable. Additionally, the Edgeworth team found that the plaintiff’s benchmark analysis did not control for non-conspiratorial factors in its failure to separate lawful from unlawful conduct.

Minneapolis District Court Judge Anne D. Montgomery granted the defendants’ motion to exclude the plaintiffs’ witness testimony and issued summary judgment in favor of the defendant SuperValu, as well as denied plaintiffs’ motion to reconsider class certification.

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