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.