Poor Brian Flynn! The Belleville city attorney makes a friendly gesture to host a happy-hour reception for a new U.S. magistrate judge and all of a sudden his motives are brought into question – just because the new judge will be presiding over discovery in a case in which Flynn is a plaintiff.
Flynn filed suit against Fiat Chrysler America (FCA) in 2015, alleging that hackers could remotely seize control of his Jeep through its Uconnect electronic system. He is hoping to represent a class of Jeep buyers with Uconnect.
As part of this effort, Flynn served a subpoena on Frederico Dodge in Wood River, demanding voluminous documents outlining details of its relationship with FCA. Federico Dodge argues that the requests include trade secrets or other confidential information and that compliance would require enormous costs.
Magistrate Judge Gilbert Sison says he had no idea that Flynn was a plaintiff in the case when the party-time offer was made, but he did have qualms about it afterwards when he found out and felt obliged to disclose it at a discovery dispute conference last week.
Sison acknowledged that he knows Flynn through the bar association and runs into him “once or twice a year.” Though he concluded that there was no need to recuse himself, he felt he should give the opposing parties an opportunity to object.
“I see him at events,” Sison explained. “Three years ago there was a photo of me and him golfing at Forest Park. This whole notion of him spearheading a party causes me a little discomfort.”
Needless to say, Flynn and his counsel saw nothing wrong in Flynn’s offer or Sison’s acceptance of it.
Maybe everything happened just as Judge Sison said and he was completely innocent in attending the happy-hour reception. Flynn, however, surely knew exactly what he was doing and how it might look. He should be called to account for his questionable practices.