Monday, December 15, 2008

We're Still Just Trying To Mind Our Own (Local) Business. Updated Monday 12-15

Here's the latest on our ongoing legal issue with Whole Foods. Remember, the crazy thing about this is that it has nothing to do with New Seasons Market. It's about Whole Foods defending their takeover of Wild Oats. We're not in any way a party to the lawsuit and don't have an opinion one way or the other about how it should be resolved.

As you probably remember, we had filed a “motion to quash” with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It asked that we not be required to turn over our private internal records to Whole Foods. (Here’s the link to my original blog post that explains the situation in detail.) Whole Foods then filed a response to our motion, attempting to justify why we should let them have our files. Here’s the link to the Whole Foods response.

Unfortunately, the tone in Whole Foods legal filing is quite different than the soothing words they’ve been posting on blogs and editorial pages around Portland and the rest of the country.

I’ll give you a couple of examples.

On the blogs they compliment us saying stuff like, “We know that New Seasons and many other fine natural foods stores are serving their customers well . . .” But, in the court filing they say we are, “smearing Whole Foods”.

On the blogs Whole Foods acknowledges the difficult situation they're putting us in and they say, "I know our subpoena represents a major cost in time and money for the New Seasons team. From our own direct experience, I know what it takes to provide this information, and I assure you we do not take the impact of this on New Seasons lightly.” But, in the court filing they continue to insist on access to our records and they say, “[the] burden to New Seasons would at most be slight” and “Confidentiality concerns raised by New Seasons are equally contrived”.

It’s not looking to me like Whole Foods is about to offer any kind of reasonable compromise soon.

Of course, the legal system being what it is, our attorneys have filed a response to the Whole Foods response. As usual, the lawyers are definitely making out! Here are the two links to the new motion our lawyers filed: Non- Party New Seasons Market Inc.'s. Motion for Leave to File Reply and Declaration of Robert Newell.

We expect a ruling from the FTC sometime soon and when we have it we’ll post it. In the meantime, I hope you’re finding the time to get outside and enjoy this amazing weather.