(Updates with special master’s pay in sixth paragraph, judge’s background in 11th paragraph.)
Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc. and the U.S. Justice Department asked a federal judge to appoint a special master to help manage the government’s lawsuit seeking to block the company’s purchase of T-Mobile USA Inc.
In a motion filed today in federal court in Washington, AT&T and the government requested that Richard Levie, a retired judge, be named a special master to oversee the process of the two sides exchanging information as the case moves toward trial. Special masters are often appointed in complex lawsuits to help the judge administer a case.
Levie’s help will be important “in light of the expedited trial” schedule, according to the request. Last month, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, who is hearing the case, set a trial date for Feb. 13.
A former associate judge on the District of Columbia Superior Court, Levie has worked as a mediator since 2000, according to the website of Irvine, California-based JAMS, a private dispute resolution service.
Levie has mediated cases involving telecommunications, high tech and health care matters, according to the website. He’s the former president of the Academy of Court Appointed Masters.
AT&T and the government would split the cost of paying Levie, according to the motion.
Michele Apostolos, a spokeswoman for JAMS, said it’s against company policy for Levie and other mediators to comment on pending cases. The proposed order, subject to Huvelle’s approval, calls for Levie to handle disputes between the parties over such items as whether particular documents have to be turned over and scheduling when evidence and witnesses have to be produced.
The Justice Department sued Dallas-based AT&T and Bonn- based Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile unit on Aug. 31, saying a combination of the two companies would be anticompetitive. The acquisition would make AT&T the biggest U.S. wireless carrier, followed by Verizon Communications and No. 3 Sprint Nextel Corp.
Separate suits to block the purchase have been filed by Sprint and Ridgeland, Mississippi-based Cellular South Inc., the ninth-largest by customers.
AT&T on Sept. 30 urged Huvelle to dismiss the Sprint and Cellular South lawsuits, defending the deal as boosting competition.
Huvelle is known for moving cases assigned to her quickly. She completes almost all her civil actions within three years and has no motions pending before her for more than six months, according to records filed with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
The case is U.S. v. AT&T Inc., 11-cv-01560, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
--With assistance from Seth Stern in Washington and Thom Weidlich in New York. Editors: Fred Strasser, Justin Blum
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