Queens Library Sues SirsiDynix, Alleging “Bait-and-Switch” Fraud

October 14, 2009

It’s Queens Borough Public Library v. SirsiDynix in a lawsuit filed by the library in United States District Court in New York and scheduled for an initial conference November 2. The library seeks more than $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages, alleging that the Sirsi and Dynix corporations, now combined into SirsiDynix, operated a “fraudulent bait-and-switch scheme” against the Queens Library during its procurement of the Horizon library automation system in 2005.

The Queens Borough Public Library, which lays claim to being the highest-circulating library in the nation, filed the complaint July 2, listing 10 causes of action. The suit states that when the library put out an RFP for a new integrated library system, Sirsi’s proposal was rejected “on valid substantive grounds,” and the library contracted instead with Dynix, then a totally separate entity,. “During the negotiations,” the complaint continues, Sirsi purchased Dynix and “proceeded to strip Dynix of the assets needed to perform under the license agreement.”

The suit goes on to state that Sirsi, which guaranteed Dynix’s performance, “fraudulently misrepresented that it would perform its obligations to provide the contracted for software system when it had no intention or ability to do so.” After two years and millions of dollars spent, the library claims, Dynix said it would not provide the promised software and “attempted to foist Sirsi Corp.’s previously rejected and technologically inferior software on the Library.” QBPL alleges that “this ‘bait-and-switch’ was exactly what Defendants intended from the time they began the discussions that led to Sirsi Corp. acquiring Dynix, [and] other libraries across the United States were faced with the same dilemma.”

Queens Library Associate Director for Communications Joanne King told American Libraries that the library had no comments to make about the lawsuit at this time. “The complaint speaks for itself,” she said. SirsiDynix CEO Gary Rautenstrauch spoke with AL but said he was unable to make a public statement on any pending litigation.

Commenting on the suit in his Library Technology Guides blog, Marshall Breeding, director for innovative technologies and research at Vanderbilt University Library, noted, “Keep in mind that at this point none of the claims made in the complaint have been proven in any court. While a lawsuit of this magnitude may be interesting news, the real story will happen as it works its way through the legal system.”