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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Litigation Reality Check – Reversing Juries in Coca-Cola v. Harmar

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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From the Texas Observer: Hitting the Bottlers

In 2000, after a six-week trial, a jury in Daingerfield, Texas, found Coca-Cola Enterprises—a bottling company 40 percent-owned by Coca-Cola—guilty of breaking state antitrust laws. Although a far cry from the $100 million they were hoping for, Harmar and the other regional bottlers won a $15.6 million judgment. Almost seven years later, they have yet to see a dime.

In late 2006, after sitting on the case for nearly two years, the Texas Supreme Court finally ruled on Coke’s appeal of the suit. By a 5-4 vote, the state’s highest civil court threw out the verdict.

Reversing a multimillion dollar judgment is not out of character for a court packed with conservative judges, six of them appointed by Gov. Rick Perry before winning pro forma elections. But the legal reasoning that the slim majority used to justify its ruling was so alarming—and sets such an unappetizing precedent—that it has spawned incredulity in Texas legal circles.

Opinion: Coca-Cola Co. v. Harmar Bottling Co., 2006-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) ¶ 75464 (Tex., Oct. 20, 2006). More commentary from Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, Perlmutter & Schuelke: Vanishing Jury Trial Part 1 and part 2, and The Federalist Society.

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Category: texas supreme court, Texas, Texans & the Law

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One Response

  1. So now you’re reading the Federalist Society website? Tsk Tsk Gilman…I’d expect a little more restraint from a granola-crunchy type from Maine than this….but then again I watch the 700 Club now and then because it’s funnier than the Daily Show sometimes with both pretending to be the news.

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