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Appeals court directs Sodexho, Michael Foods to stand trial for alleged price manipulation

PHILADELPHIA The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit here last week overturned the earlier dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit against Sodexho U.S.A., the Gaithersburg, Md.-based contract foodservice provider, and Minnetonka, Minn.-based Michael Foods Inc., in which the two firms were charged by a rival company with alleged price manipulation of potato and egg products.

In a 2-1 ruling, the court decided the two firms must stand trial against Harrisburg, Pa.-based institutional foodservice distributor Feesers Inc., which sued both companies for alleged price fixing in 2004.

The case originally was dismissed when the court ruled that Feesers had failed to show it competed with Sodexho U.S.A., which is the North American division of Paris-based parent Sodexho Alliance. Sodexho employs approximately 2,000 workers in the Lehigh Valley region in Pennsylvania and operates the Retail Brand Group foodservice division, which is based in Allentown, Pa.

Jaya K. Bohlmann, vice president of communications for Sodexho U.S.A., said the company “did not violate the antitrust laws, and will vigorously defend this lawsuit. Sodexho is confident it will prevail at trial on the issues of fact and law in this matter.”

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