Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge on June 20 granted Ford Motor Co.'s motion for protective order involving sensitive documents.
Ford faces a suit brought by Brian Williams, a motorist who claims serious injuries while driving a 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck on Lake Road in Jersey County on Feb. 4, 2005.
Williams claims when he attempted to make a turn, his vehicle "accelerated without his foot being on the accelerator, causing him to hit a tree."
The incident occurred because the accelerator remained in the wrong position, claims the suit that had been re-filed last November.
Williams had requested the production of confidential and proprietary information, which Ford stated provides it with "a distinct final product and an edge in the automotive industry," according to Ford's motion.
The production of the materials without the benefit of a protective order would open the door for Ford's competition to obtain confidential technology, the motion states.
Plaintiff's attorney Lon Weaver told Ford's lawyer, Michael Borree, he had no objection to the entry of a protective order, according to the motion.
Mudge signed the order June 20, stating documents to be produced by Ford in the lawsuit that contain confidential information shall be referred to as "protected documents."
The burden of proving a protected document contains confidential technical information is on Ford.
Ford must determine the material has commercially sensitive information, which could damage Ford's competitive position if passed around, before labeling any material as "protected," according to Mudge's order.
If a party disagrees with the protected designation of any document, the party will notify Ford in writing.
Ford will file a motion within 30 days of the written notification for the purpose of establishing the document is confidential. Any document marked as protected will be treated as such pending determination by the court as to its confidential status, according to Mudge's order.
Any transcriber of testimony in the lawsuit shall agree "confidential" information shall remain confidential.
Because of the incident, Williams became sick, sore, lame and disordered and lost his earning capacity, according to the complaint.
In his complaint, Williams is seeking a judgment of more than $50,000.
Douglas R. Heise is local counsel for Ford. Michael J. Borree also is an attorney for Ford.
Lon D. Weaver of Weaver Law Office in Bethalto represents Williams.
Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-1131.