Laurie Piechur is over her limit

The Madison County Record Aug. 29, 2010, 7:00am

The Redbox DVD rental protocol is simple and straightforward, but that didn't stop Laurie Piechur of St. Clair County from challenging it. When she failed to return two discs on time and was docked the customary $25 per, she filed suit, asking the court to certify the case as a class action and award a judgment of more than $350,000.

Perhaps absurd, yes, but Piechur was just getting started. Now she and her attorneys, the ever-angling Thomas Maag and his associates at the Wendler Law Firm in Edwardsville, have served a discovery subpoena on Redbox's rival, Blockbuster.

What does Blockbuster have to do with the tenuous case against Redbox? Nothing at all.

Unable to discern what relevance its internal documents might have to a suit against Redbox, and concerned that proprietary information might be unfairly revealed in the course of legal proceedings, Blockbuster has moved to quash the subpoena and terminate the Piechur-Maag "fishing expedition."

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

Let's recap the situation: Piechur is suing Redbox for $350,000 because she was charged the stated purchase price of two DVDs she failed to return in the specified time. She and her attorneys are now trying to use this merit-challenged lawsuit as a pretext to extract valuable inside information from Blockbuster, a rival company that has nothing to do with the complaint against Redbox.

To what end? Is this latest Piechur-Maag maneuver the prelude to a suit against Blockbuster? Must that company acquiesce in discovery in an unrelated case and thereby choreograph an attack against itself?

Redbox and Blockbuster have hundreds of thousands of loyal customers who appreciate the convenience and affordability of their film rental policies. Must we be penalized with higher prices to cover the cost of defending against such suits?

Wouldn't it make more sense to revoke the "fishing" license of people like Piechur?

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