A recent state supreme court decision may have nationwide impact on tire litigation. On May 22 the Texas Supreme Court held that plaintiffs seeking trade secret information from a tire manufacturer must show specifically how the lack of the information could derail a case. The court’s decision in In Re Bridgestone/ Firestone Inc. gives no guidelines. Justice Nathan Hecht wrote for the majority that the test established in 1998 by the court in In Re Continental General Tire Inc. for discovery of trade secret information “cannot be satisfied merely by general assertions of unfairness,” According to Judge Hecht’s opinion, the plaintiffs in about 150 cases alleging Firestone tire-tread separations and Ford Explorer rollover accidents failed to show how access to the skim-stock formulas used by the tire company is necessary for a “fair adjudication” of their claims.

Mike Phifer, liaison co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the Firestone litigation, says the majority opinion provides no guidelines on what a plaintiff has to do to show that trade secret information is necessary for a claim to be adjudicated fairly.

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