Lawsuit alleges Netflix, Wal-Mart acted improperly

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Several lawsuits filed across the country in the past two weeks allege Netflix Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc improperly negotiated Wal-Mart’s departure from the online video market in 2005 to enable both companies to benefit illegally, said a lawyer involved in two suits on Thursday.

“There’s a giant investigation by a number of law firms throughout the country regarding anti-trust collusive behavior between these companies,” said lawyer Daniel Becnel of Reserve, La., who filed one suit in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and one in New Orleans earlier this week.

Becnel said about 40 similar lawsuits had been filed throughout the country in the last two weeks.

Netflix declined to comment, while Wal-Mart said it did nothing wrong when it decided to stop renting DVDs.

“We made our own independent decision to exit the DVD rental business and our subsequent agreement with Netflix is entirely proper,” said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Michelle Bradford in a statement. “We intend to defend vigorously our decisions regarding the products and services offered to our customers.”

Reporting by Sue Zeidler; Editing by Andre Grenon