After a jury heard several witnesses brought by Valassis, News America asked the judge to find that Valassis had not made its case -- that as a matter of law there was no case to answer, and that therefore the jury should not get to consider its verdict.
But Judge Michael Sapala of Wayne County Circuit Court in Michigan ruled that Valassis had brought enough evidence for a jury to consider, and the trial continues. Sapala said:
The question is whether all of the facts taken together are sufficient to permit this case to go to the jury on the two counts that have been submitted, and I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to support each count, and that being tortious interference and unfair competition.The judge put together 13 "groupings of facts" that he believed could allow a jury to conclude in Valassis' favor. Firs among them, Sapala said, was that:
... the jury could conclude that the CPGs have no reasonable practical alternative to the Defendant for in-store promotions. The testimony would compel the conclusion that Defendant is dominant in the ISP business.On its own, the ruling is a minor event in the trial. News America probably did not expect to win the motion and merely brought it to chance its arm. And while the judge's ruling lays out 13 reasons why Valassis has proven its case, it does not mean that Valassis is going to win. The jury has yet to hear from News America's witnesses, and much of the testimony in the trial so far has been complicated and difficult to follow, even for people familiar with ther industry.
Nonetheless, the Valassis team will see the ruling as one of the few remaining legal hurdles to cross, with the jury verdict being the finish-line tape.
- See BNET's previous coverage of the in-store marketing wars:
- News America's Carlucci Again Accused of Threatening to "Destroy" Floorgraphics
- Valassis Exec Testifies on Anti-News America "Sock Puppets"; Paid Wyeth $1M to Stay
- News America's Emmel Testifies on Exclusivity Payments to Eckerd, Ahold, Harris Teeter
- Del Monte Allegedly "Held Hostage" by News America; Heinz Wanted to Rip Agency a "New A Hole"
- Nestle Exec Had "Tirade" Over News America's Pricing; Mixson Says He Always Does That
- News America Threatened to "Crush" Agency That Worked for Kroger
- News America Irked by Portrayal at Valassis Trial
- PepsiCo Exec: News America Charged an Extra $18 Mil. If We Didn't Take Bundled Deal
- 450 Jobs at Stake in Valassis Trial; Is This All CEO Schultz's Fault?
- News America's Carlucci Admits He's a "Godfather" Fan; Denies Unannounced Price Rises
- Murdoch Quoted at Valassis Trial: "Now You Have to Really Go After Them"
- News America Exec Testifies Unilever, Conagra and Kraft Got Higher Prices for Not Taking Bundled Ad Deals
- Trial: Valassis Lost Share When It Raised Prices; Tried To Hire News America's Mixson
- Valassis Uses News America's Own Clients Against It in Trial; Feel the Wrath of Sara Lee!
- Heinz, Quaker, Sara Lee Feature in Valassis v. News America Trial