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A judge has given victory to franchisor Coca-Cola in its battle with a Jewish family who fled Egypt in 1965.
From 1938 to 1962, the Coca-Cola company did business with the Bigio family, leasing land and buying products from the family companies. In 1962, the Egyptian government was in the midst of expelling the Jews and the Nasser government took the Bigio company assets. The family fled Egypt and now resides in Canada.
In 1993, the Egyptian government sold the former Bigio family assets, and Coca-Cola bought 42% of the stock in the now-privatized company.
The Bigio family brought suit against Coca-Cola, alleging that Coke knew of the Bigio claims and that Coke was now knowingly trespassing on Bigio property. Coke responded that they had purchased property in a lawful sale conducted by the government of Egypt, and had paid for that property.
Bigio's attorneys also alleged that Coca-Cola had been unjustly enriched by purchasing the seized Bigio property, likening Coca-Cola to someone who knowingly purchases stolen property and then asserts that since it paid the thief, the property rightfully belongs to Coke.
Coke's attorneys argued that "if there was enrichment, it was Egypt's."
After many years of litigation, and several initial victories for the Bigio family, a federal judge ruled last week that Coke is entitled to dismissal of the case.
Those interested in the legal rationale may read the opinion of the court.
Those interested in the moral rationale of Coca-Cola's action will need to look elsewhere.
Author's Note: Given that some readers are unfamiliar with the reasons why your choice of Coke or Pepsi is a political statement in much of the Middle East, this background is added:
It is not an unreasonable possibility that Coca-Cola (which was well aware of the history of the Bigio family--see the legal pleadings and the Bigio family website) quite deliberately purchased the assets and intended to benefit from the controversy.
Purchasing assets seized from Jews is not a problem in much of the Middle East, and is likely a net plus in the Egyptian and Saudi consumer markets.
|Bigio v Coca-Cola OPN Aug2010.pdf||142.65 KB|
|Bigio's Memo of Law in Support of Motion Sept 2009.pdf||653.29 KB|
|(Bigio v. Coca-Cola) Affirmtn of R. Bigio Sept 2009.pdf||834.21 KB|
|(Bigio v. Coca-Cola)Bigio Surreply Oct 2009.pdf||163.53 KB|
|(Bigio v. Coca-Cola)Coke Memo of Law Oct 2009.pdf||751.47 KB|
|(Bigio v. Coca-Cola)Coke response Nov 2009.pdf||118.38 KB|