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Oct 10, 2:12 PM EDT

Airlines dealt setback in merger-lawsuit trial



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DALLAS (AP) -- A court-appointed official says American Airlines and US Airways shouldn't get to know the names of all the people that the government interviewed and what they said before the Justice Department sued to block the airlines' proposed merger.

The official, called a special master, recommended Thursday that the federal judge hearing the case reject the airlines' request.

The official said that the airlines were trying to learn what facts mattered to the government, which he said could give them insight into the thinking and legal strategy of the Justice Department lawyers. He said that kind of information is protected as the work product of lawyers preparing for a lawsuit or trial.

American and US Airways issued a statement saying that they were reviewing the recommendation to U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

"We are confident in our legal position and our ability to win this case," the airlines said.

The companies were close to completing their deal and creating the world's biggest airline when the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit in August. The government said that the merger would limit competition and lead to higher prices.(backslash)

A trial is scheduled to start Nov. 25 in Washington.

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