Eaton pushes for bogged-down case to continue for trial in 2010

Improper conduct by one of its former attorneys in a $1 billion theft-of-trade secret lawsuit shouldn’t derail the case from its February 2010 trial date, the company says in court papers.

Eaton Corp., which designs, tests and manufactures aerospace hydraulic fluid applications for commercial and military use, alleges in the lawsuit that five former employees of its Jackson office, all engineers, stole trade secrets for military contracts and gave them to their new employer, Frisby Aerospace, a North Carolina competitor they went to work for in January 2002.

The case, however, has become bogged down over whether former Eaton attorney, ex-Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters, improperly communicated with the original presiding judge, Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, who was once Peters’ assistant prosecutor.

Peters last month surrendered his bar license and admitted he violated ethics rules in connection with the case. Frisby attorneys have since asked that the case be put on hold and the lawsuit be dismissed as punishment for Peters’ actions.

But in response, Eaton’s attorney, Michael Wallace, is asking that case be allowed to continue for trial in Hinds County Circuit Court as scheduled.

Clarion Ledger