Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Risk Updates (Controversy Edition): Confidential Disclosures + Protective Order + Drama = Risk




"Lawyers Sanctioned for Filing Confidential Information in Grubhub Suit" --
  • "A federal magistrate judge on Thursday sanctioned a law firm for publicly filing documents containing Grubhub Inc.’s confidential information in a lawsuit claiming the delivery service misclassified workers as contractors. 'I’m going to grant the motion for sanctions,' U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley of the Northern District of California said at a hearing. 'It was absolutely inexcusable to do that filing without redacting that information.'"
  • "Shannon Liss-Riordan—the attorney leading the case against Grubhub–apologized for the filing, which was made by a junior attorney at her firm named Thomas Fowler. But she downplayed the incident as a “technical error.' 'It is not a technical error,' Corley retorted. 'It is, in fact, an egregious error.'"
  • "Corley said she was issuing the sanctions to underscore that litigants must carefully protect confidential information. Disclosures like the one made by Liss-Riordan’s firm, the judge said, make it harder for plaintiffs generally to get access to sensitive business records in discovery."
  • "In a hearing earlier in the day at the same courthouse, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California found that Liss-Riordan had violated a court-issued protective order by using a list of California Uber drivers certified as class members to drum up potential business. She had emailed the roughly 240,000 drivers to inform them that if her arguments against arbitration failed at the Ninth Circuit, she could represent them in individual actions against Uber."
  • "A California federal judge ripped into all sides in a contentious hearing Thursday over Monsanto’s allegations that an opposing attorney improperly leaked confidential documents in a multidistrict litigation alleging its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, at one point threatening to call security to remove a lawyer."
  • "U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said there was “plenty of blame to go around” for the dispute, which stems from a July meeting during which Monsanto said 86 disputed documents were irrelevant to the litigation and should remain under seal. Plaintiffs’ attorney R. Brent Wisner of Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman PC waited 30 days for Monsanto to file a declaration defending its protective order. When it didn’t, he assumed the company had decided not to pursue its argument that the documents couldn’t be unsealed because the judge had threatened to sanction Monsanto if it continued to make frivolous filings."
  • “'Mr. Wisner, along with other members of the leadership group, decided to ignore that this was a live dispute,' the judge said. 'It seems obvious that these documents are relevant to the general causation phase of this litigation. It seems clear the position Monsanto was taking in the the meet and confer was unreasonable. ... The great irony here is had you teed this up before me in a joint discovery letter or a motion, I would have no doubt ruled in your favor and I would probably have had Monsanto pay the litigation costs.'”

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