SOURCE: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

April 18, 2007 12:49 ET

Greenberg Traurig Wins Dismissal of Antitrust Claims Against Gaia Herbs

DENVER, CO -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 18, 2007 -- The international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP successfully defended Gaia Herbs, Inc., in an antitrust lawsuit brought against the organic herbal products manufacturer by an Internet distributor with which Gaia Herbs declined to do business.

The plaintiff,, alleged that Gaia Herbs refused to take Vitacost on as a distributor because it refused to agree to Gaia Herbs' resale pricing policies. Vitacost charged that Gaia Herbs' resale price maintenance violated Florida's antitrust law.

Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida first dismissed the claims on January 26, 2007 ruling that lacked "standing" to assert its contentions. filed an amended complaint, and in a 10-page decision on March 27, 2007, the judge again ruled against the distributor, noting that the company had never been a customer or competitor of Gaia Herbs.

"Antitrust standing is a judicial principle that requires the plaintiff to show it has suffered injury from conduct the antitrust laws are intended to prevent," said Greenberg Traurig Antitrust Shareholder Allan Van Fleet of the firm's Houston office. "Because Vitacost had never been a distributor or consumer of Gaia Herbs products, its alleged injury was only to itself, not to competition in the market for herbal supplements."

The Court confirmed that a manufacturer like Gaia Herbs "may unilaterally announce its resale prices without committing an antitrust violation," and referred to the U.S. Supreme Court decision of U.S. v. Colgate & Co. in stating that a manufacturer "can announce its resale prices in advance and refuse to deal with those who fail to comply."

After the second dismissal, Vitacost has elected not to file another amended complaint, and instead voluntarily dismissed its case against Gaia Herbs, which is headquartered in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Van Fleet led Greenberg Traurig's team which included Paul Brown, also of Houston, along with David Ross of Miami and Jim Prochnow of Denver.

"Pricing and territorial restriction issues arise every day in the natural products industry," Prochnow said. "The Gaia Herbs case emphasizes the need for industry companies to be aware of and sensitive to the application of antitrust law."

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Greenberg Traurig, LLP is an international, full-service law firm with 1,600 attorneys and governmental affairs professionals in the U.S., Europe and Asia. The firm is ranked seventh on The American Lawyer's Am Law 100 listing of the largest law firms in the U.S., based on number of lawyers.

Greenberg Traurig was recently recognized as the third fastest growing antitrust litigation firm in the country, based on the number of new antitrust cases actually handled.

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