WWD.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/court-denies-morgan-stanley-clarity-request-732890/

PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton claimed a small victory Monday in its $100 million bias suit against Morgan Stanley when the Commercial Court here denied a two-pronged request by the investment bank to have its opponent clarify certain evidence.

This story first appeared in the April 29, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Magistrate Jean-Pierre Eck, assigned to rule on the Morgan Stanley requests, said LVMH need not pinpoint what’s germane to its case on a CD-ROM containing 1,900 pages of documents, nor was the luxury firm compelled to present any evidence it might be sheltering.

Instead, Eck assured Morgan Stanley’s lawyers that they would get all the time they need to respond to any new LVMH submissions throughout the legal proceedings, which could last a year or more.

LVMH accuses Claire Kent, Morgan Stanley’s chief luxury analyst, of bias and conflict of interest in her equity research on LVMH and its rivals. Morgan Stanley advises Gucci Group on acquisitions and other matters.

An LVMH spokeswoman called Monday’s decision a victory that would force Morgan Stanley to “quit stalling.”

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley’s counsel said the decision provided an important legal clarification. “In no way is this a defeat,” said Bruno Quentin, part of the Morgan Stanley legal team with Paris firm Gide Loyrette Nouel. “We needed this ruling before we could proceed. It sets the rules.”

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman added that Eck “confirmed that the principle of fairness must be respected.”

The court set May 26 as the next date for the hearing on the case and asked Morgan Stanley to present its defense on that date. The investment bank said it plans to defend the suit vigorously, and ultimately launch a counterclaim against LVMH for damages done to it by the proceedings.