Valassis Suit vs. News America Being Conducted in Secrecy

Last Updated Feb 20, 2009 12:04 PM EST

It is not news that Valassis's price-fixing lawsuit against rival News America Marketing Group is costing Valassis millions of dollars. But what evidence does the company have against News America?

That question is currently unanswered because Valassis and News America are conducting their litigation under a blanket secrecy order from Judge John Feikens. You can download a copy of the order here. This is a shame because if Valassis really did have evidence of predatory pricing and coercive long term contracts with packaged goods companies and supermarkets, that would be something that companies advertising with Valassis and News America might want to know. Especially as these two companies control the bulk of the entire U.S. coupon and direct mail market between them.

The litigation should also be of interest to supermarkets, food and packaged goods advertisers because the lawyers for the two companies have turned up a huge amount of evidence about each others' businesses. You can see that on the case docket, which you can download here.

The docket is fascinating because it lists the names and sources of dozens of executives and companies that do business with Valassis and News America. If you're an employee, client or supplier for Valassis and News America, you might want to download that docket and search it for your own name.

There's deposition testimony from Bob Recchia, Valassis's CFO, for instance. There's material on Heinz, GlaxoSmithKline, CBS, Sara Lee, Danone, Gillette, Georgia-Pacific, Kraft -- just about every major company that does advertising business with these two companies.

As both companies have to turn over requested documents to each other, it raises the prospect that both companies now know all each others' relevant business secrets, down to specific advertisers, supermarkets and vendors. We don't know that for sure, of course, because of the protective order.

There's a clause in the protective order that allows the two companies to stamp certain evidence "for attorneys eyes only," but I'll leave it to you to speculate as to how effective that fire wall will be.

  • See BNET's previous coverage of Valassis: