US: Appeals court "blocks Whole Foods delay request"
An appeals court has reportedly turned down Whole Foods Market's application for a delay in an administrative trial that will decide whether to unravel its 2007 merger with fellow US organics retailer Wild Oats Markets.
According to a report in Reuters, the US District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said on Friday (23 January) that Whole Foods had not shown that it has a "clear and indisputable right to the extraordinary remedy".
Earlier this month, Whole Foods had filed its petition with the appeals court to delay the Federal Trade Commission trial, which is due to begin on 6 April.
Whole Foods re-filed it in the Court of Appeals in a bid to speed up its protracted battle with the FTC over its US$565m takeover of Wild Oats. Whole Foods looked to the appeals court as it did not want to spend time "arguing the case" on jurisdictional grounds.
The retailer had charged the FTC with violating the company's due process and equal protection rights. The retailer said it believed the competition watchdog had already "publicly prejudged the case against Whole Foods Market" and not given the company enough time to prepare for the administrative trial.
According to Reuters, following the appeals court's decision to turn down Whole Foods' request, the retailer is now considering its options.
"We filed our case based on the FTC's violation of Whole Foods' constitutional rights directly to the Court of Appeals, as the FTC requested, to save time. We now are considering re-filing the case in the District Court or re-framing our request for relief to the Court of Appeals so that they will hear our case," Whole Foods attorney Lanny Davis told Reuters.
The FTC and Whole Foods have been embroiled in legal battles for over a year over the acquisition of Wild Oats.
The FTC believes the deal is anti-competitive. Whole Foods, which has already rebranded some of the Wild Oats stores, insists it competes head on with mainstream grocery chains that sell better-for-you products.
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