State, ex rel. v. Safeway, Inc., et al.

This case stemmed from a Mutual Strike Assistance Agreement (MSAA) that was entered into by defendants (grocers) where the MSAA included a revenue-sharing provision (RSP), providing that in the event of a strike/lockout, any grocer that earned revenues above its historical share relative to the other chains during the strike period would pay 15% of those excess revenues as reimbursement to the other grocers to restore their pre-strike shares. At issue was whether the MSAA was exempt from the antitrust laws under the non-statutory labor exemption, and if not, whether the MSAA should be condemned as a per se violation of the antitrust laws or on a truncated "quick look," or whether more detailed scrutiny was required. The court held that the MSAA between the grocers to share revenues for the duration of the strike period was not exempt from scrutiny under antitrust laws and that more than a "quick look" was required to ascertain its impact on competition in the Southern California grocery market. Given the limited judicial experience with revenue sharing for several months pending a labor dispute, the court could not say that the restraint's anti-competitive effects were "obvious" under a per se or "quick look" approach. Although the court concluded that summary condemnation was improper, the court expressed no opinion on the legality of the arrangement under the rule of reason. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "State, ex rel. v. Safeway, Inc., et al." on Justia Law