Blockbuster claims 'fishing expedition' discovery requests in Redbox class action

Amelia Flood Aug. 24, 2010, 12:59am



Blockbuster, Inc. is moving to quash a discovery subpoena served by the plaintiff in a St. Clair County class action suit filed against its rival, Redbox, Inc.

The motion filed Aug. 2 claims plaintiff Laurie Piechur is conducting a "fishing expedition" outside the scope of third party discovery.

Blockbuster and NCR Corporation argue that their internal documents and trade practices would be unfairly revealed to Redbox, the company Piechur is suing on behalf of a nationwide class of DVD renters.

Blockbuster Inc. is the video rental chain behind Blockbuster Express video rental kiosks. NCR is its partner in putting out the kiosks.

The 2009 class action claims that Piechur and others were unfairly overcharged by Redbox after they returned DVDs after specified times.

It seeks more than $350,000 in damages, attorney's fees and other relief.

Redbox has tried, unsuccessfully, to have the suit dismissed.

The class has not been certified as yet, although Piechur has moved for a briefing schedule on the issue.

Piechur subpoenaed Blockbuster over its DVD rental kiosks, asking for internal documents such as meeting minutes, drafts and other corporate communications.

Blockbuster argues Piechur has no reason to ask the Texas-based company for as much as she has.

The rival company isn't part of the litigation in any way, its motion states.

"There is no mention of the Blockbuster Express program in her complaint," the motion to quash states. "Her requests are amazingly overbroad, particularly for non-party discovery. In short, Plaintiff Piechur's subpoena is nothing more than a fishing expedition through the corporate files of a non-party with no conceivable connection to the claims at issue in her case."

The company points to its rivalry with the defendant in Piechur's case, claiming the revelation of its internal documents during discovery would harm it.

"This fishing expedition would expose Blockbuster to serious competitive harm, forcing it to produce sensitive business information in litigation involving a direct competitor," the motion states.

Blockbuster and its parent also allege that Piechur is skirting the laws of Texas by issuing the subpoena to Blockbuster's Illinois agent while asking for documents held in Texas.

The case is assigned to St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young.

Thomas Maag, Peter Maag, Jeffrey Millar, and Thomas Keefe Jr. represent Piechur and the proposed class.

Robert Sprague and Eric Brandfonbrener represent Redbox.

Kurt Reitz, Robert Wagner, and Heath Hooks of Belleville represent blockbuster.

Michael Raiff and Mark Fuller of Vinson & Elkins LLP of Dallas also represent the company.

Jeffrey Reel of St. Louis, David Ahlstrom and James Dyer of Sebaly Shillito & Dyer LPA of Dayton Ohio represent NCR. NCR is based in Georgia.

The case is St. Clair case number 09-L-562.

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