Regulatory: A Lone Pine order for trade secrets litigation?

Unless the plaintiff is absolutely certain of dismissal, demanding detailed, early disclosures may not be the best option

The Lone Pine order is now a well-established aspect of mass tort and product liability litigation. First issued in a 1986 New Jersey state court case, Lore v. Lone Pine Corporation, the court’s case management order in that case required plaintiffs to provide expert reports supporting a causal link between the alleged injuries and defendant’s landfill, and plaintiffs’ failure to come forward with such evidence resulted in dismissal of their claims. The Lone Pine order acts a gatekeeper to eliminate baseless claims at an early stage of the litigation by demanding evidence on a threshold scientific question.

At first blush, the Lone Pine approach may seem readily adaptable to trade secrets litigation. Instead of requiring plaintiff to produce an expert affidavit, a gatekeeping order might instead require detailed disclosures of plaintiff’s alleged trade secrets sufficient to demonstrate a reasonable basis for claiming trade secret protection. There is a body of precedent supporting such orders as appropriate case management tools, especially in cases where the plaintiff’s initial pleading offers only vague allegations regarding the existence of the trade secrets.


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Matthew Prewitt

Matthew Prewitt is a partner in the Chicago office of Schiff Hardin, where he concentrates in complex litigation and also co-chairs the firm's Trade Secrets Client Services...

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