New Allegations Raised in Ongoing Pitt-Lundy Dispute
In a Dec. 13, 2013, opinion, U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed without prejudice the Pitt firm's Sherman Act, unfair competition and tortious interference with contract claims, saying the plaintiff failed to show that Lundy Law's exclusive advertising contracts with KYW, the Wells Fargo Center, SEPTA and BARTA were unlawful.
Rufe said the Pitt firm "alleged no facts, beyond Lundy Law's acquisition of discrete, albeit highly effective, advertising opportunities, in support of its claim that Lundy Law has engaged in predatory or anti-competitive conduct."
"Although Lundy Law may well wish to dominate that legal market, it has not been adequately pled that Lundy Law has engaged in predatory or anti-competitive conduct to achieve that goal," Rufe said. "The goal of all advertising is to increase market share, and the fact that advertising is effective does not render its use anti-competitive or predatory. In fact, in seeking exclusive advertising opportunities, it appears that Lundy Law is responding to competition in the legal market."
But in one of two accompanying orders, Rufe gave the Pitt firm until Jan. 3 to replead the dismissed antitrust claims, along with the claim that a federal trademark suit Lundy Law filed against the Pitt firm earlier this year and then dropped constituted an abuse of process.
The Pitt firm's original complaint had cited as an example of additional "predatory conduct" the suit Lundy Law filed against Pitt & Associates in March 2013, which had claimed Pitt & Associates' "Remember This Number" slogan was too close to Lundy Law's "Remember This Name" slogan.
According to court records, Lundy Law voluntarily dismissed that suit April 18, 2013.
In its original complaint, the Pitt firm alleged Lundy Law's suit had "no good-faith basis in law and fact" and was filed "for anti-competitive purposes."
In its second amended complaint, the Pitt firm alleges Lundy Law dropped the suit a few hours after learning that the Pitt firm had insurance to cover the fees and costs associated with the litigation.
While Rufe, in her Dec. 13 opinion, had allowed the Pitt firm to continue with its Dragonetti Act claim, she said the firm failed to adequately plead an abuse of process claim, which pertains to a perversion of the civil process after a suit is filed but not to the actual filing of a suit.
In its second amended complaint, the Pitt firm has maintained the Dragonetti Act claim but has dropped the abuse of process claim.