Friday, December 1, 2006

USA v. NAR - Status hearing before Judge Filip (written on 11/30/2006)

There was a status conference this morning before Judge Filip, the first one held following the Court's denial of NAR's motion to dismiss.

NAR's outside counsel stated that while there had been efforts to settle the case, the government's insistence upon a consent decree represented a 'major stumbling block'. He added that Magistrate Judge Denlow had offered a 'creative solution' which the government declined. Judge Filip seemed pleased that the parties had at least made some attempts at settling, and added that Magistrate Judge Denlow was perhaps the most successful judge in the entire 7th Circuit at facilitating the settlement of cases. The DOJ attorney stated that they'd be thrilled to settle, but later stated the government sought 'resolution.' He stated that even if DOJ is wrong, at least the parties will know what they can/cannot do in this context (I did not perceive this statement as a sign of weakness).

NAR's counsel informed the Court that DOJ had identified 36 local markets wherein the government must show evidence of anticompetitive effects. He warned that discovery would be long and complex. In response, the Court noted that antitrust cases tend to be prolonged, and he didn't construe counsels' cautions as an indicator of any impropriety by the attorneys.

The next hearing before Judge Filip will be Feb 7th. There is a hearing before the Magistrate, however, in early January.

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