PARIS — It’s judgment day for luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and investment bank Morgan Stanley.

A judge at the commercial court here today is expected to deliver its ruling in the $128 million, or 100 million euros, suit LVMH lodged against Morgan Stanley alleging conflict of interest and biased equity research by its luxury analyst, Claire Kent. The judge will also rule on Morgan Stanley’s $12.8 million, or 10 million euros, counterclaim for damages done by proceedings it considers abusive. (Dollar figures are converted from euros at current exchange.)

Today’s hearing is expected to be brief. A judge is expected to read the decision and award any damages, moving swiftly on the court’s judgments in other cases.

Last November, at a marathon trial brimming with acrimony and incredulity, LVMH argued that Kent waged a systematic campaign to denigrate LVMH in her reports and in the media over a period covering 1999 through 2002. The investment bank is a longtime adviser to Gucci Group.

Lawyers for Morgan Stanley rebutted that LVMH had nary a shred of evidence to demonstrate that it suffered a loss and that the firm only launched the suit to grab headlines and seek vengeance against an ally of its rival.

At the conclusion of the trial, French prosecutor Jean-Louis Lécué said he detected fault under French tort law, but his opinion is not binding.

In the interim, lawyers for Morgan Stanley were asked to submit additional documents, including boilerplate statements and evidence of its business ties to Gucci.

The case is considered a first in France, and the judgment will be closely followed by the entire luxury sector and Wall Street watchdogs.

This story first appeared in the January 12, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.