TCJL has filed an amicus brief in the Texas Supreme Court in a troubling case of discovery abuse from a Dallas County Court at Law.
In re Lyft (No. 23-0379) arose from a personal injury lawsuit in which plaintiff sought discovery of Lyft’s excess insurance policies, which the company considers as confidential and proprietary. Lyft and plaintiff negotiated an agreed protective order under which Lyft produced the policies under a designation of confidentiality. The agreed order also included a sharing provision allowing plaintiff to share the policies with similarly situated plaintiffs subject to confidentiality. Having obtained the policies, plaintiff turned to the trial court and moved to strike the confidentiality designation, thus allowing full public disclosure of Lyft’s confidential information. To make matters worse, plaintiff’s counsel claimed that he could “put [the policies] on CNN.” The trial court granted plaintiff’s motion. Lyft filed a petition for writ of mandamus at the Dallas Court of Appeals, which denied it. Lyft then sought relief from SCOTX.
TCJL’s brief urges the Court to correct what we see as an egregious abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court. As we state in the brief
we view this case as a very serious frontal attack on the ability of our members to do business in Texas without their confidential information becoming the stock and trade of social media platforms and attorney advertising. The only reason for broad public disclosure of such information is to assist in the solicitation of litigation. And as long as there are trial courts willing to give their blessing, no business can have any faith in the judicial system to enforce the protections that this Court has so carefully crafted in its decisions. How businesses will respond will vary from the case to case, but it would be a crying shame for the kind of abuse we see in this case to poison the well for everybody.
We argue further that no defendant in its right mind will trust to a negotiated, agreed protective order if it cannot be sure that the plaintiff won’t turn around and get the trial court to disregard it. In short, this case is an affront to the judicial system and undermines confidence in its fairness and impartiality. We hope that the Court sees fit to address it.