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Weil Obtains Unanimous Eighth Circuit Opinion Upholding Antitrust Class Action Defense Jury Verdict

On April 27, Weil won a complete victory for C&S Wholesale Grocers when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit unanimously affirmed the district court’s judgment dismissing all claims against our client following a complete defense jury verdict in April 2018 in Minnesota federal court.

In 2016, Weil was brought in as lead trial counsel for C&S following the certification of classes of more than 300 retail grocers, which sought more than $800 million in treble damages. The plaintiffs, represented by Boies Schiller, alleged that C&S and its competitor, SuperValu, entered into a conspiracy to allocate territories for a period of five years, resulting in inflated grocery prices. The other defendant settled before trial. After nearly two weeks of trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client. Weil received “Litigator of the Week” honors from The American Lawyer for winning the verdict.

The plaintiffs promptly appealed the judgment to the Eighth Circuit, arguing that the district court erred in its instructions to the jury. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that the verdict sheet should have allowed the jury to find in plaintiffs’ favor if the jurors found either a geographic market allocation agreement or a separate customer allocation agreement between the co-defendants. In its opinion affirming the district court’s judgment, the Eighth Circuit found no error as the plaintiffs’ evidence and theory was of a hybrid geographic market and customer allocation that was one and the same in this case.

Litigation Department Co-Chair David Lender and Antitrust Litigation Partner Eric Hochstadt led the trial team, along with Litigation partner Luna Ngan Barrington and associate H. David Leslie. Co-Head of Weil’s Appellate Litigation and Complex Commercial Litigation practices Greg Silbert argued the appeal and led the appellate team with associate Xiaoxi Tu.

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