US Airways/American Airlines
When DOJ sued to enjoin US Airways’ multibillion dollar merger with American Airlines in August 2013, US Airways hired O’Melveny to act as lead trial counsel. The DOJ’s suit was declared “a stake in the heart of the merger,” “a difficult case to defend,” and “too strong to overcome, essentially killing the merger.” When asked if some type of compromise might be possible, Bill Baer (Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust) declared that “a full-stop injunction is the right course for the consumer.” But in less than 90 days and on the eve of an early trial date won by O’Melveny, DOJ instead settled. In that time, O’Melveny led a team that produced more than one million documents, took or defended 33 party and third-party depositions, and delivered or responded to eight expert reports. The press hailed the settlement that came out of O’Melveny’s aggressive and fast-paced defense as a victory for US Airways. The New York Times described DOJ’s “About-Face” as “Baffling” and asked “Did the Justice Department cave?” The Wall Street Journal announced that DOJ had “retreat[ed] on an American Airlines-US Air merger to avoid losing in court.” US Airways closed its merger with American Airlines on December 9, 2013 and became the largest airline in the world.