Wood River auto dealer says Uconnect class counsel document request is unreasonable

By Record News | Jan 29, 2019

EAST ST. LOUIS – Belleville city attorney Brian Flynn, leading a national class action for Jeep owners, served a subpoena on Federico Dodge in Wood River for every detail of its relations with Fiat Chrysler America. 

Federico Dodge filed objections at U.S. district court, moving to hold them in abeyance pending a solution. 

Magistrate Judge Gilbert Sison granted a holding motion on Jan. 22. 

Federico Dodge didn’t figure into the action until Flynn’s subpoena arrived. 

Flynn seeks “all contracts or agreements between you and FCA by which you are deemed, classified, or become an authorized dealership of FCA. 

“…[D]ocuments sufficient to show the requirements or considerations associated with becoming an authorized dealership of FCA. 

“…[D]ocuments sufficient to show the rules, policies, procedures, and processes governing your relationship and dealings with FAC. 

“…[D]ocuments including policies, procedures, training manuals, brochures, technical bulletins, and communications sufficient to show the rules, policies, procedures, and processes that FCA requires you to follow or suggests that you follow in repairing or providing service for FCA’s vehicles that are under warranty, including documents relating to the mechanics or technicians who may perform such work, the tools or products that may be used to perform such work, and the payment or reimbursement by FCA to you for such work. 

“…[D]ocuments sufficient to show how you are to promote or sell FCA vehicles, including documents relating to how you should explain, describe, or promote features and capabilities of FCA’s vehicles, and the rules, policies, procedures, and processes that apply to your use of promotional materials for FCA or FCA’s vehicles, FCA’s name, FCA’s logos, FCA’s vehicle brand and model names, and FCA’s trademarks.  

“…[D]ocuments relating to FCA’s ability to obtain sales reports, sales data, or personnel records from you. 

“…[D]ocuments sufficient to show FCA’s rules, policies, procedures, and processes for answering customer inquiries, questions, reports of vehicle malfunctions, or complaints. 

“…[D]ocuments sufficient to identify or otherwise determine all paperwork or notices (e. g., brochures, contracts, owner’s manuals, warranties, etc.) that FCA required you to provide to purchasers, lessees, or customers who are considering purchasing FCA’s vehicles.” 

Federico Dodge counsel William Niehoff of Belleville filed objections on Jan. 4, arguing that the requests were unreasonable in scope and unduly burdensome. 

He wrote that the scope included trade secrets or other confidential information, and that the subpoena did not provide adequate compensation to Federico to attempt compliance. 

“These costs will be substantial and include overtime for employees and costs and fees for counsel and production of electronic information,” Niehoff wrote. 

He wrote that Federico would be required to divert employees from their ordinary jobs in order to conduct a search of paper and electronic information. 

He moved to hold his objections in abeyance on Jan. 22, by agreement with Flynn. 

He wrote that they worked diligently to find a solution addressing Flynn’s discovery requests and Federico’s concerns. 

“The parties have made progress in this regard and request that the court continue generally any need to respond to Federico’s objections without prejudice to either party to assert their positions in the future, should the need exist,” he wrote. 

“The parties will update the court regarding whether the objections should be set for consideration by the magistrate or whether the subpoena can be withdrawn.” 

Federico Dodge didn’t figure into the case until the subpoena arrived. 

Flynn sued FCA, Chrysler’s owner, in 2015, claiming hackers could remotely seize control of his Jeep through its Uconnect electronic system. 

He proposed to represent Jeep buyers with Uconnect, seeking the difference between amounts they paid and amounts they would have paid if they had known the risk of remote control. 

District Judge Michael Reagan certified Flynn as class representative. 

Reagan set trial this Oct. 7, though he plans to retire March 31. 

Christopher Baucom of Armstrong Teasdale leads Flynn’s legal team, which includes former U.S. attorney Stephen Wigginton.     

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Armstrong Teasdale Federico Chrysler Dodge Jeep

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