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Delaware judge expedites Alere lawsuit against Abbott

Traders gather at the booth that trades Abbott Laboratories on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

NEW YORK/WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - A Delaware judge on Friday granted a motion to expedite Alere Inc's (ALR.N) lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N), which seeks to ensure that Abbott lives up to the terms of its $5.8 billion takeover of the diagnostics company, representatives for Alere said.

Alere filed suit last week in the Delaware Court of Chancery, arguing that Abbott is trying to stymie the deal by purposefully delaying key submissions to anti-trust regulators. Abbott denies the charges.

Delaware Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock did not say when a trial would be held and did not address hearing dates. Instead he ordered the parties to go back to their clients and ask if they would consider mediation.

Former Chancellor William Chandler is available to be a mediator, according to the judge.

"The judge’s suggestion that the parties work together is helpful and we look forward to engaging in that process," Abbott said in a statement. "Abbott continues to be compliant with its obligations under the merger agreement."

An Alere spokesperson said the company was pleased with the court's decision.

Abbott agreed to acquire Alere in February. In late April, Abbott struck an even bigger deal to buy St. Jude Medical (STJ.N) to position itself as the dominant player in the market for cardiovascular devices.

After the St. Jude deal was announced, Alere said in a filing that it had declined an offer from Abbott to pay it up to $50 million to break off their merger agreement.

Alere claims in its complaint that Abbott is motivated to end its deal with Alere in order to free up capital for its $24 billion takeover of St. Jude.

Abbott has said it is in compliance with the deal and that Alere's financial problems and related delays in filing its financial statements had slowed its progress.

(Reporting by Michael Erman in New York and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del.; Editing by Leslie Adler)