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Whole Food’s Sues FTC to Enjoin Administrative Proceedings

Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : December 11, 2008

On December 8, 2008, Whole Foods brought an action in federal court claiming that the FTC’s administrative process is unconstitutional as applied to it.  (Whole Foods Complaint)  Whole Foods claims that the FTC has prejudged the FTC’s challenge to its merger with Wild Oats.  Whole Foods also claims that the Scheduling Order entered in the administrative proceedings is so expedited that it is impossible for it to complete discovery and be ready for trial and therefore represents a denial of due process.  Whole Foods seeks to have the FTC’s challenge heard in federal court and bypass the administrative process.  One would think that Whole Foods is ensured of due process because it can file a petition for review of an adverse administrative decision before any United States Court of Appeals and if it was denied due process, the administrative decision would be vacated.  This is the latest saga in the Whole Foods litigation.  While Whole Foods defeated the FTC’s federal court action for a preliminary injunction in aid of the administrative process to enjoin consummation of the merger, the D.C. Circuit reversed.  The transaction had closed but the D.C. Circuit remanded to the action to the district court to inquire whether there was any way to restore competition notwithstanding consummation.  After Whole Foods sought reharing en banc, the original panel amended its decision to make it on behalf of a single judge with one judge concurring in the result and the other judge dissenting.  This effectively mooted any need for en banc review because there was no decision of the Court which would have been binding on future panels. See Posts of December 1 and July 29, 2008 for more coverage of FTC v. Whole Foods.

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