A decade after the spectacular bankruptcy of the Schlecker drugstore chain, former employees and other creditors can hope for further payments.
Because the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) made a far-reaching judgment on Tuesday.
The senate responsible for cartel matters decided that Arndt Geiwitz, Schlecker's insolvency administrator, can still claim a claim of at least 212 million euros from a number of well-known manufacturers of drugstore articles in court.
The appeal by Geiwitz, who has been suing the group of suppliers for almost six years, was successful.
Now the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Frankfurt has to decide again on the case (Az. KZR 42/20).
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He was "happy and relieved," said Geiwitz.
However, the economic consequences have not yet been determined.
The court must now decide that.
He was "cautiously optimistic" that he could prove the damage there.
The cartel lawsuits are a "fight" for the creditors and thus also for the employees and the taxpayers, since the Federal Employment Agency has high claims from the proceedings.
This is a late aftermath of one of the most sensational insolvencies in German economic history: the end of the drugstore chain Schlecker, the deep fall of patriarch Anton Schlecker and the fate of more than 20,000 employees, who were nicknamed "Schlecker women". the country in 2012 for months.
Many can benefit from lawsuits
How much money the “Schlecker women” and the other creditors can hope for depends on the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court.
According to a Geiwitz spokesman, if the court found damage, interest would have to be paid on the amount for a decade and a half.
This could more than double the amount.
Geiwitz had already paid out a total of 21.3 million euros in June of this year.
22,600 former employees received a low to mid three-digit sum.
The claims result, for example, from non-payment of wages and Christmas or holiday bonuses.
In addition to the employees, health insurance companies, social insurance companies and the employment agency can also benefit from the BGH decision.
Specifically, Geiwitz's lawsuit for damages claims the financial damage that the drugstore chain near Ulm may have suffered almost two decades ago because several suppliers had illegally agreed on their prices.
Almost ten years ago, the Bundeskartellamt announced that between 2004 and 2006 the manufacturers had agreed within the framework of their regular working group "Body care, detergents and cleaning agents" (KWR) of the Markenverband on which gross price increases they intended to pay to retail companies and drugstore chains or would have already prevailed.
The current status of annual negotiations with large retailers and the amount of special claims were also discussed.
The cartel was uncovered by the Colgate-Palmolive corporation.
From 2018, Geiwitz tried to bring in more money for the bankruptcy estate with a lawsuit.
According to his argument, the agreements led to an average 10 percent higher purchase price for Schlecker.
The lawsuit failed in the first instance, and the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court also denied possible damage, but without having obtained an expert opinion.
However, as other cartel damage claims have meanwhile shown, the calculation of any damage by economists is of great importance.
The BGH explained that the Court of Appeal assumed that an exchange of information was possible in order to achieve higher prices.
However, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt attached too little weight to this set of experiences.
The cartel senate in Karlsruhe announced that the Frankfurt judges' assumption that they could not form their own opinion of the damage was based on an "incorrect overall assessment".
15 manufacturers sued
The complex case against the 15 defendants has to be heard before a civil senate in Frankfurt next year.
A spokesman for Geiwitz confirmed the number of opponents in court when asked by the FAZ, but did not want to name any names.
He was also open to a comparison with the cartel companies.
"The other side hasn't had this willingness so far." He can't judge whether that will change now.
In addition to the lawsuit against the drugstore manufacturer, Geiwitz has filed several other antitrust lawsuits.
According to the spokesman, these compensation processes are still in the first instance.
It's about detergent, coffee and sugar.
A conflict with confectionery producers was settled out of court.
The Geiwitz side considers it unlikely that the process will end quickly.
A decision can only be expected in about a year and a half, said the spokesman.
It was said in June that the entire Schlecker process should be completed in 2 to 3 years.
Insolvency administrator Geiwitz is meanwhile busy with the next case that is moving the republic.
This is the second time he has tried his hand at renovating the Galeria department store chain.