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Justice Department Takes a Shot at Judge in AT&T-Time Warner Merger

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 08, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Justice Department has asked a federal appeals court to throw out the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner deal.

Legal observers say the government has a losing argument against the mega-merger, which brings major television programming to AT&T's cable service DirectTV. But that hasn't stopped the government's lawyers.

Mary Wimberly took her best shot in United States of America v. AT&T, arguing that the trial judge made "errors of economic logic and reasoning." However, those are not typical grounds for appeal.

Moving On

AT&T's lawyers have not filed their response yet, but CFO John Stephens was ready before the government filed its opening brief in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

"This isn't a chance for a do-over," Stephens said in a webcast covered by the Hollywood Reporter. "It just doesn't work that way."

Stephens said the company expects to "move on." According to the New York Times, the government will have a hard time undoing the deal at this point.

Still, Wimberly threw everything at the wall in her argument to the appeals court. She said the government showed at trial that the merger will hurt American consumers.

Facts and Theory

Of course, the judge didn't see it that way. Judge Richard Leon rejected the same arguments and evidence at trial.

While the government's expert predicted consumers could see a 45 percent increase in monthly cable bills, the judge didn't find the evidence credible. He said the witness did not reconcile the facts with theory.

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