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Blockbuster, Studios Ask Court to Drop Indies' Case

25 Sep, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

Blockbuster Video and its studio codefendants have asked a Los Angeles judge to end a lawsuit in which independent retailers have accused the companies of fixing prices and giving Blockbuster preferential treatment.

Studios in the case include Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Paramount/Viacom and Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone; 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; and Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Motions filed on their behalf Sept. 20 in Los Angeles Superior Court indicate the defendants want Judge Victoria Chaney to rule that the case was already argued in federal court in Texas, so the law bars the independents from seeking a second trial in California. A trial transcript and statements related to the Texas trial were filed in support of that motion.

But the defendants are taking no chances. Along with the request for a summary judgment, they asked the court to pare the issues if the case does go to trial and filed affirmative answers to the indies' allegations. They also submitted a proposed timeline for matters leading up to a trial.

Blockbuster spokespersons declined to elaborate on the progress of the case.

The independents accuse Blockbuster and the studios of using revenue-sharing agreements with terms that are out of reach to indies to help Blockbuster build its market share at indies' expense. Blockbuster and the studios say their actions and any impact on indies were coincidental.

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