Judge Grants Stay of AA’s Antitrust Lawsuit
by Michele McDonald

A judge granted a request to stay American Airlines’ antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, against Sabre, Travelport and Orbitz.

The stay was requested by American, Travelport and Orbitz and was granted by Judge Terry Means, over the vehement objections of Sabre.

Mediation planned
American and Travelport plan to enter mediation to attempt to resolve their differences. They worked with a mediator earlier this year and say a second round could “materially advance settlement.”

Orbitz and American are working separately on a resolution.

Sabre opposes stay
Sabre had argued that it would suffer prejudice if the motion for a stay was granted, but the judge said that “a brief stay” is appropriate.

“Sabre contends that it is entitled to efficient resolution of its counterclaims,” Judge Means wrote in his decision. “And the Court is sympathetic to this right. At the same time, however, Sabre only recently filed its counterclaims, despite having received the bankruptcy court’s permission to do so some time ago.”

American’s bankruptcy court gave Sabre the go-ahead to pursue a counterclaim last December. Sabre filed the documents, which are sealed, on Aug. 21.

In light of that, the judge wrote, “a brief stay will not cause Sabre any significant or unfair prejudice.”

What happens next
The stay will automatically expire on Dec. 21. American and Travelport have told the court that the earliest mediation they could schedule is Dec. 12 and 13.

The judge also extended several deadlines for discovery to January, February or March; the last, for pretrial and dispositive motions, is March 22.

Travelport said it was “very pleased” with the judge’s decision; Sabre had no comment.

State trial goes forward
American noted that this extension applies only to the case pending in federal court and will not affect the trial in Texas state court that involves American and Sabre. Jury selection in that case, in the 67th District Court of Texas, Tarrant County, is slated to begin Oct. 9.  
 
In a statement, the carrier said, “We would prefer to resolve our disputes with all the defendants amicably, and we have tried mediation in the past. Those previous efforts did not yield an agreement, and there is no guarantee that future sessions will succeed. However, the litigation has progressed sufficiently that all parties to the motion believe that a new round of mediation to determine if an agreement is possible is warranted.”

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