A federal judge in Washington, DC ruled last week that the FTC must disclose the names of the individuals it relied on in its bid to block a proposed $3.5 billion merger between Sysco and US Foods. (We’ve previously covered the litigation over the proposed merger here and here.) The FTC attached under seal 92 declarations and an exhibit list identifying the names and affiliations of the declarants to its motion for a preliminary injunction halting the merger.
Sysco and US Foods moved to make the names public earlier this month, arguing primarily that the information was necessary to mount a defense. The FTC argued that the identities of the witnesses were confidential material under the parties’ protective order. It also raised concerns over retaliation against the declarants and a potential chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to aid in future investigations.
U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta ruled that the declarants’ identities would be disclosed to Sysco and US Foods “strictly for the purpose of preparing their defense.” He declined to decide whether their identities should be made public.
The FTC sued to block the merger in February on the grounds that the deal would give Sysco too much sway over both national and local markets for food distribution centers.