Sprint suffered a blow in its legal quest to stop the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, as U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle denied the company’s motion to access confidential documents that were provided by AT&T to the Justice Department (DOJ) in connection with the DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit against the transaction. The ruling, handed down at a status hearing on Monday, could complicate efforts by Sprint and C-Spire (formerly Cellular South) to prove that the proposed $39 billion union of AT&T and T-Mobile USA will negatively impact their ability to compete. (Last month, Sprint and C-Spire filed separate legal challenges against the transaction on the heels of the DOJ complaint, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in August.) Huvelle’s decision also comes as a setback for the DOJ, which had told Huvelle that a grant of Sprint’s request would enable the DOJ to coordinate the development of its case with both Sprint and C-Spire and thus gain insight from the carriers’ expertise that the DOJ otherwise lacks on competitive and other issues affecting the wireless industry. While denying Sprint’s motion “to the extent that they want reciprocal access to everything AT&T produces for the [DOJ],” Huvelle specified that the DOJ could make a “special request,” on a case-by-case basis, to the court-appointed master who oversees discovery and protective orders in the antitrust case in the event the DOJ wants to share particular information with Sprint and/or C-Spire. At Monday’s hearing, Huvelle also listened to arguments relating to AT&T’s petition to dismiss the Sprint and C-Spire lawsuits for lack of standing, as she questioned Sprint repeatedly on how the company would be harmed by the transaction as opposed to how consumers or competition in general would be harmed. Predicting that if the merger proceeds “it will tip the market toward duopoly,” Sprint argued that the transaction “will make it difficult . . . to get key inputs like handsets, as well as raise costs for roaming and backhaul.” Answering Huvelle’s inquiry as to whether Sprint will survive in a post-merger market led by a unified AT&T/T-Mobile, counsel for Sprint also replied: “the question is whether our ability to increase output and discipline prices, whether that survives.” As she scheduled the next status hearing for November 30, Huvelle said she would take “under advisement” AT&T’s claim that Sprint and C-Spire lack standing.