The quiescent legal battle between Focus Media and its former client, Sears, Roebuck & Co., flared up again last week when the agency filed an amended cross-complaint against the retailer, accusing Sears of a "conspiracy" that includes named and unnamed media sellers and buyers.
The complaint states that Sears, its top marketing officials and 10 unnamed "[John] Does," whose actions or depositions supported Sears' suit, "knowingly and willfully conspired and agreed among themselves to force Focus Media out of business and destroy Focus Media's operations."
Focus also claimed that "personal animus against Focus Media and its officers, and a desire to advance their own personal interests . . . and future employment opportunities" spurred the alleged attempt to destroy it.
Focus, in Santa Monica, Calif., demands that Sears be held responsible for any losses Focus might sustain due to legal action brought against it by NBC, Fox and Time Warner for nonpayment of media bills.
The action was filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles and includes charges of breach of contract, civil conspiracy and fraud.
"We intend on litigating this case very fiercely," said Daniel Mason, Focus Media's lawyer.
Sears will file a response later this month. "Focus still has not explained where the money that was intended for the media [outlets] has gone," said a company representative.
--with Aaron Baar