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Cross-Discipline Latham Team of Antitrust, Appellate, and Trial Litigators Score Unanimous Third Circuit Affirmance for Client U.S. Sugar

July 13, 2023
Appellate opinion cements earlier multi-court successes against the US Department of Justice high-profile challenge to U.S. Sugar’s purchase of Imperial Sugar.

A cross-discipline, cross-office team of Latham litigators scored a major victory for client U.S. Sugar when the Third Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the Delaware federal court’s September 2022 ruling that the purchase of Imperial Sugar by U.S. Sugar is not only not anti-competitive, but also pro-consumer.

In fall 2022 Latham delivered a hat trick of victories in rapid succession, successfully defending U.S. Sugar against the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) challenge to the Florida company’s acquisition of Imperial Sugar Co. Filed in November 2021 in Delaware federal court, the suit was the first merger challenge brought by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter.

Taking the case from complaint to trial in less than five months, Latham scored its first victory at trial when, on September 23, 2022, the Delaware federal court sided resoundingly in favor of the merging parties. The team them delivered two additional smack downs in short order: defeating DOJ’s attempts to enjoin the transaction, in Delaware district court (September 28) and at the Third Circuit (September 30). As a result of this sprint of wins, U.S. Sugar successfully closed its purchase of Imperial Sugar in November 2022.

Following oral argument earlier this year, on July 13, 2023, a unanimous Third Circuit panel definitively affirmed the lower court’s ruling, bumping Latham’s victory tally to four, all achieved in less than a year.

U.S. Sugar commented, “The people of U.S. Sugar are pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has upheld the lower court’s decision which allowed U.S. Sugar to complete our acquisition of Imperial Sugar’s Savannah Refinery. We continue to focus our efforts on the integration of our sugar businesses. As we have previously stated, bringing the Savannah Refinery, its sugar brands, and facilities back into American ownership is good for our employees, our local communities, our customers, and our country. We look forward to bringing more high-quality, great tasting, and affordable sugar and other sustainably grown food products to American families.”

Latham added, “Our team is grateful for the panel’s careful consideration of this appeal, and for their unanimous agreement with the district court’s ruling that this transaction simply does not raise any antitrust concerns. We are thrilled we could deliver this result to the wonderful team at U.S. Sugar.”

Representing acquirer U.S. Sugar were partners Larry Buterman, Melissa Arbus Sherry, Chris Yates, Amanda Reeves, Jennifer Giordano, Lindsey Champlin, and Kelly Fayne; counsel Elyse Greenwald; and associates Molly Barron, David Johnson, Charlie Dameron, Chris Brown, Matthew Piehl, Jesse Vella, Leah Wisser, Graham Haviland, Christine Greeley, and Saffa Khan.