Whole Foods seeks injunction against FTC on merger trial

[JURIST] Whole Foods Market [corporate website] filed an action [complaint, PDF] in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Monday requesting an injunction barring the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] from holding an administrative trial regarding the company's merger with Wild Oats Market [corporate website]. The action also requests that any further proceedings be moved to federal court. The suit alleges that the FTC has a prejudgement on the case and that the company's due process rights are violated by the timing of the trial. The complaint regarding the prejudgement stems from the FTC publicly questioning the merger, including whether it violated anti-trust laws. John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, said [press release]:

How can the same FTC sit as judge and jury at sometime in the future of the very same case in which it has already declared that the Whole Foods-Wild Oats merger is illegal and it's key expert witness is 'garbage'? The answer is - it shouldn't be allowed to. It has obviously already closed its mind. That's not our understanding of what due process and the principles of fundamental fairness are all about.
In addition, Whole Foods alleges the timing of the FTC trial violates their due process rights. The FTC is questioning the merger's impact in 29 different geographic jurisdictions. Whole Foods argues that five months is not adequate time to prepare for what it considers to be essentially 29 different trials.

In 2007, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] refused to block [JURIST report] the merger between Whole Foods and Wild Oats despite an appeal by the FTC. The court reviewed the case in August 2008 and ordered the federal district court to reconsider [JURIST report] the potential impacts of the merger on the market. The district court has not yet ruled on the matter.

 

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