Federal judge denies second attempt from DOJ to obtain interim injunction in Booz Allen-EverWatch case

The Booz Allen Hamilton logo is seen on a building in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, on March 11, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

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A Maryland federal judge blocked a second attempt by the Department of Justice to stop Booz Allen Hamilton from completing its acquisition of signals intelligence company EverWatch, court documents show.

According to an Oct. 31 court filing, the Department of Justice requested a second injunction to halt the deal just days after a first injunction was denied.

Judge Catherine Blake dismissed the latest request, saying that it did not meet the required legal standard in order to proceed.

In her opinion, the judge wrote that the government’s desire for relief was moot in part because Booz Allen’s acquisition of EverWatch had closed the same day that the DOJ sought a second injunction.

Blake wrote: “Here, the Government once again asks this court to pause Booz Allen’s acquisition of EverWatch. But that ship has sailed. In denying the Government’s initial attempt to stop the transaction, the court allowed the defendants to ‘merge on their own terms, if they so choose.’”

According to the judge, the latest injunction was denied also because the Department of Justice was unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal. She noted also that sorting assets between the two companies post-acquisition could prove challenging, and that the government’s public interest arguments were not compelling.

The judgment represents the latest setback for the Department of Justice in its antitrust case against Booz Allen Hamilton and EverWatch.

In an opinion last month, Judge Blake found that the government failed to provide direct evidence that Booz Allen Hamilton’s acquisition of EverWatch would have detrimental effects on competition or pose likely harm to a National Security Agency contract.

According to her prior opinion, Booz Allen would still be disincentivized to hike prices or reduce services, should it win the NSA’s Optimal Decision modeling simulation and signals intelligence contract, and the contract does not constitute an entire market.

A Booz Allen spokesperson said: “We again appreciate Judge Blake’s careful consideration of the evidence in this matter and her conclusion that DOJ’s case rests on a proposed market definition that ’casts sound economics aside’ under the guise of ‘stag[ing] a one-on-one showdown,’ while also acknowledging the Government has raised only a narrow, almost moot concern related to the transaction.”

“We look forward to competing vigorously for OPTIMAL DECISION, as we have always intended to do, and to bringing the combined strength of our team to national security missions for years to come,” the spokesperson added.

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Booz Allen Hamilton, Department of Justice (DOJ), EverWatch, National Security Agency (NSA)
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