Eaton v. Frisby: Does Eaton have any Good Arguments?

Jimmy Gates at the Clarion-Ledger reports on a hearing yesterday in Eaton v. Frisby on the issue of whether the Peters-DeLaughter aspect of the case will be kept under seal. The more that this story develops the weaker Eaton’s arguments sound. The article summarized the party’s positions as follows:
Frisby:

But Alan Perry and Robert McDuff, attorneys for Frisby, now known as Triumph Group Inc., argued sealing should be done on a document-by-document basis.
“Closing everything engenders suspicion and mistrust,” McDuff said.

Eaton:

Eaton has argued to keep many court papers sealed, including Yerger’s order for Peters to give a deposition. Peters’ transcript, however, would be sealed until the court makes a final determination, Yerger ruled.
Yerger asked [Mike] Wallace how Eaton would be prejudiced if the documents in the Eaton vs. Frisby case weren’t sealed.
“By suspicion,” Wallace responded.

Frisby has the better argument by far. We’re ALREADY suspicious.Eaton wanting to maintain secrecy into the investigation of Eaton makes me more suspicious. If you did nothing wrong, why do you care if everything is public?
Eaton hired Ed Peters in the biggest civil case in Mississippi– a theft of trade secrets case involving hundreds of millions of dollars. Peters’ background was as a prosecutor, not as a civil trial lawyer who had obtained a lot of big verdicts. Then Peters did not file an entry of appearance in the case and Frisby did not even know he was on the case. Eaton says that it hired Peters because he had tried a lot of cases. But Eaton’s story has some obvious holes.
First, when you hire a hot-shot trial lawyer you want that lawyer to appear in the case to try to scare the other side. Having Peters lay in the weeds does not really serve a purpose. Second, it begs the question of how Peters was being paid? Lawyers getting paid by the hour have an economic incentive to formally appear in the case so that the opposing party has to mail them all their pleadings. In a case this big, a lawyer billing by the hour stands to make a lot of money just reading all the pleadings that the parties file. That was apparently not a big concern for Peters.

Read more at MS Litigation Review
8/26/9