On February 28, 2017, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia AGs were not entitled to $175,000 in legal fees for their efforts in the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) challenge to Staples Inc.’s proposed acquisition of Office Depot.
The FTC clearly took the lead and won a preliminary injunction under the more lenient standard under 13(b) of the FTC Act. After winning the preliminary injunction not a permanent injunction under the Clayton Act, Staples and Office Depot abandoned their merger plans.
Pennsylvania and D.C. argued they were entitled to fees under a provision of the Clayton Act that allows for the reimbursement of legal costs when the plaintiff “substantially prevails.” Staples’ lawyers painted the AGs as mere spectators and argued that they should not be entitled to legal fees for two reasons. First, they did not win under the Clayton Act and second, the fees were unreasonable.