The city sued the food delivery service two years ago at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
DoorDash, in response, raised an affirmative defense that Chicago’s contingent fee arrangement with its outside lawyers, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, gives the firm a financial stake in the suit that runs contrary to the city’s obligation to act the public interest and violates DoorDash’s due process rights.
In support of that defense, the company moved to compel discovery of all documents relating to the city’s retention of the firm, all nonprivileged communications between the city and the firm, and not limited to the current case.
While Chicago conceded that some what DoorDash seeks is appropriate, it maintains that the company is entitled only to production of the city’s retainer agreement with the firm and outside counsel guidelines and that anything beyond that invades the attorney client relationship.
Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert wrote that “courts in this jurisdiction have allowed such contingency fee arrangements” in denying in part the Doordash motion.
“DoorDash casts its line too far from the figurative pier with these broad discovery requests supported mostly by speculation and conjecture,” the magistrate said. Gilbert suggested more conference between parties might resolve some of DoorDash’s issues without “motion practice.”
The company has also asked for Chicago’s communications with federal as well as intra-state and out of state agencies, according to the court’s ruling. And, while the city produced records dating back to Jan. 1. 2019, Doordash wanted documents stretching as far back as 2014.
This Gilbert denied.
The court said that it wouldn’t approve the communications request as written, but ordered parties to discuss a new scope for discovery that would be proportional.
The company’s requests for pre-2019 conversations were too broad for the court to grant at this time, Gilbert said, but communications about whether the misleading consumer fees were a local or national problem are “relevant to DoorDash’s home rule defense.”
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Forde & O’Meara LLP; and Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP represent Doordash.
The case is City of Chicago v. Door Dash LLC, N.D. Ill., No. 1:21-cv-05162, 5/25/23.
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