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PROFESSIONAL ADJUSTING SYS. OF AMERICA v. GENERAL

April 9, 1974

PROFESSIONAL ADJUSTING SYSTEMS OF AMERICA, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
GENERAL ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, INC., Defendant


Gurfein, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GURFEIN

GURFEIN, District Judge:

This is a motion by plaintiffs to compel answers to interrogatories and the production of documents.

 The action is brought by a franchisor or trade association of independent insurance adjusters, Professional Adjusting Systems of America, Inc. ("PASA"), and two independent insurance adjusters, Solberg Adjustment Company ("Solberg") and Free State Adjusting Company ("Free State") to recover for alleged violations of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Defendant General Adjustment Bureau, Inc. ("GAB") is a corporation primarily engaged in the business of providing insurance loss and claim adjustment services, representing property and casualty insurance companies. From 1932 until the date of the complaint in this action (the "PASA action"),* GAB's stock was owned by insurance companies.

 Specifically the complaints in the two actions allege that during the period from 1930 to 1971 GAB and certain unnamed co-conspirators, including its shareholders, engaged in a combination and conspiracy, pursuant to which they did the following:

 (a) Caused shareholders to utilize GAB's facilities for adjustment and settlement of claims;

 (b) Caused shareholders to boycott independent adjusters;

 (c) Caused shareholders to coerce and intimidate agents to channel claims to GAB;

 (d) Caused shareholders to adhere to GAB's assessment billing schedule in dealing with independent adjusters;

 (e) Formulated uniform price lists for labor and material used in the repair and replacement of damaged property; and

 (f) Established uniform practices and procedures to be used in the adjustment and settlement of claims.

 The present motion deals with interrogatories 8 through 16, 17, 20-22; 29-32; 42; 44 and 45.

 Preliminarily, Re: the Time Period

 These two actions were commenced in April 1972. The plaintiffs seek information with respect to each of their interrogatories going back to April 15, 1952. The defendant contends that it would be burdensome to require these interrogatories to be answered for a period longer than twice the statute of limitations. See Austin Theatre, Inc. v. Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., 30 F.R.D. 156 (S.D.N.Y. 1958); Stanzler v. Loew's Theatre and Realty Corp., 19 F.R.D. 286, 298 (D.R.I., 1955). The applicable statute of limitation in Section 4B of the Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. § 15b) is four years. Plaintiffs contend quite plausibly that since they have alleged there was a concealment of the conspiracy, the statute of limitations may well have been tolled for a considerable number of years. See Atlanta City Electric Co. v. General Electric Co., 312 F.2d 236 (2 Cir. 1962); United States and Tennessee Valley Authority v. General Electric Co., 209 F. Supp. 197 (E.D. Pa. 1962). This, however, requires proof, and for the time being, although from the nature of the conspiracy it would seem to be correct, that is an insufficient reason for not weighing the burdens which such extensive discovery would entail.

 Since this is the first wave of discovery, I am holding, as a practical matter, that the interrogatories which are to be answered as stated in this memorandum are to cover the period from January 1, 1964. If further discovery reveals a need for additional background information or indeed substantive information based on a tolling of the statute ...


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