A federal judge in Manhattan has 60 days to move forward with the nearly 9-year-old antitrust case against Keurig Green Mountain Inc. before a federal appeals court reconsiders whether to intervene in the litigation, according to a court order on Tuesday.

The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an order declined “a bid from a plaintiffs’ lawyer suing Keurig over alleged anticompetitive conduct in the single-cup coffee brewing market to compel U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick to set a trial date.”

Broderick has two months to act on the pending motions; otherwise, the three-judge panel will consider a renewed motion. Those motions include arguments by Keurig and the plaintiffs’ lawyers that the court could only rule on the basis of the facts contained in the pleadings.

Among the plaintiffs are California-based family coffee products company JBR Inc. and Illinois-based food and beverage company TreeHouse Foods Inc. Keurig has denied the claims, and the plaintiffs warn of further delays in the case.

The cases have been before Judge Broderick for nearly nine years, but in late September, JBR filed a petition for a writ of mandamus. The company felt compelled to do so after becoming frustrated with the speed with which Judge Broderick acted in court when, after 8.5 years, there was still no trial date.

Trial could easily be another four, five, or more years away. Key witnesses are getting older, retiring, and indeed dying, or have died, waiting to have [JBR’s] day in court.”  He also said he’s happy with the court’s decision and is hopeful they will finally have a trial.

Daniel Johnson Jr, the plaintiffs’ lawyer

This is good news for the plaintiffs, who have been frustrated over the pace of the litigation for a while, and have been urging Broderick to set a trial date. Keurig’s lawyers, on the other hand, said in a court filing that Broderick’s “decisions on the pending motions could obviate a trial or define the extent of any remaining claims.”

The lawsuit has been pending since 2014 on a claim that Keurig “monopolized or attempted to monopolize and restricted, restrained, foreclosed, and excluded competition in order to raise, fix, maintain, or stabilize the prices of Keurig K-Cup Portion Packs at artificially high levels.”

The original suits also accused Keurig of breaking antitrust laws by putting on the market technology that would allow its machines to work only with Keurig’s coffee pods.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

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