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Chrysler again claims Wigginton put confidential documents into public record in Uconnect action

By Record News | May 9, 2017


Car maker Chrysler, which claimed in April that former U.S. attorney Stephen Wigginton exposed its confidential information in his current capacity as class action lawyer, claims he did it again on May 4. 

According to Chrysler, Wigginton attached excerpts of a deposition to a brief before the time to designate it as confidential had expired. 

Chrysler counsel Sharon Rosenberg filed a protest that day, as a supplement to a motion for sanctions pending before District Judge Michael Reagan. 

“Plaintiffs have no right to put into the public record information and testimony when Chrysler still has a right to mark that information as protected,” Rosenberg wrote. “Plaintiffs’ actions are as outrageous as they are astonishing.”  

She proposed a drastic sanction, swift and stern. She called for immediate corrective action, and she got it. 

As of May 8, the public could not read Wigginton’s brief or the attachment. 

Wigginton resigned as U.S. attorney in 2015, and joined the Armstrong Teasdale firm in Clayton, Mo. 

Last year, he took charge of a pending action alleging that hackers can seize control of certain Chrysler vehicles with uConnect electronic systems. 

Lead plaintiff Brian Flynn, a Belleville lawyer, issued a third party subpoena on Cisco Systems last September. 

When Cisco resisted, California lawyer Amy Carlson opened a case in district court at San Francisco and moved for an order compelling compliance. 

Carlson attached to the motion an exhibit from discovery in the Illinois action. 

Chrysler moved to seal the motion and the exhibit on April 27, arguing that they exposed trade secrets in violation of an order in the Illinois  action. 

Later that day, Carlson moved to seal the motion and the exhibit. 

The California court sealed them. 

On that date in Illinois, Chrysler moved for sanctions against Flynn. 

“Not only did plaintiffs include information in a public court filing that was derived solely from documents designated confidential during the course of this action, they quoted from these documents in public filings,” Rosenberg wrote. 

Wigginton responded on May 4, in the brief now under seal. 

According to a reply Rosenberg filed later that day, Wigginton argued that the information his California associate disclosed was not material to their motion. 

Rosenberg wrote that their admission made their offense worse.

“Plaintiffs’ argument that Chrysler had a hand in Cisco’s decision about what documents to produce, with no proof whatsoever, is outrageous,” she wrote.

“In fact, Chrysler was not even aware of a discovery dispute between plaintiffs and Cisco until it received the motion outlining such a dispute.

“As an additional insult, plaintiffs failed to properly serve on Chrysler the Cisco subpoena action.” 

She declared it doubtful that plaintiffs had effectively served the Cisco third party action on Chrysler in compliance with local rules. 

U.S. Magistrate Donald Wilkerson ordered plaintiffs to respond by May 12. 

In California, on May 8, Cisco counsel Scotia Hicks challenged the subpoena. 

Hicks wrote that Cisco produced all relevant and responsive materials and didn’t withhold any information on the basis of trade secret objections. 

She asked whether Flynn satisfied his burden to show that Cisco should search for additional documents having no probative value for the underlying action.

She also wrote that Cisco’s production included 53 separate reports of testing work totaling more than 500 pages, “not merely 53 pages as Flynn claims repeatedly.” 

Also on May 8, Wigginton applied to appear before the California court. 

Magistrate Judge Susan Van Keulen has set a hearing May 16. 

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Organizations in this Story

Cisco Systems, Inc. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles