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Suburban Sew'N Sweep v. Swiss-Bernina

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
91 F.R.D. 254 (1981)


Facts

Sewing machine retailers (Retailers) (plaintiffs) commenced an antitrust action against Swiss-Bernina alleging price discrimination and conspiracy. To investigate their case, the Retailers searched through a trash dumpster located in the parking lot of a Swiss-Bernina office building. Trash that was collected in office waste baskets was dumped into a large trash container inside the office building and that container was then dumped in the parking lot dumpster, which was used only by Swiss-Bernina. Over a two year period, the Retailers collected various documents from the dumpster, including drafts of letters handwritten by the President of Swiss-Bernina to a lawyer for the corporation. During discovery, the Retailers served Swiss-Bernina with interrogatories seeking information regarding the confidential letters. Although the parties agreed that the letters were intended to be confidential, the Retailers sought to compel answers to the interrogatories seeking information about the confidential letters. The Magistrate refused to compel answers to the interrogatories on the ground that the Retailers obtained the letters by improper means. The district court reviewed the Magistrate’s decision.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Leighton, J.)

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