Goodyear Loses Bid to Keep Sealed Deposition Testimony Secret

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Lawyers representing Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. could be on the hot seat under a federal judge’s order allowing them to be questioned about deposition testimony in a case that was settled under a confidentiality agreement.

The March 18 decision by U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster of San Diego comes after Goodyear sought a sanction against plaintiffs lawyer Guy Ricciardulli for revealing the 2003 deposition testimony by a Goodyear employee, Bloomberg News reports. Ricciardulli claims the employee testified the company was aware its G159 tires could fail when used on motor homes; Goodyear says the lawyer’s recollection was wrong and the employee did not say the tires were defective.

The transcript of the deposition was never finished, and Goodyear destroyed the court reporter’s notes.

Brewster not only refused to sanction Ricciardulli, he also said the lawyer could testify about his recollection of the employee’s testimony if she deviates from her previous testimony in new cases against Goodyear, the Bloomberg story says. The judge also said Goodyear lawyers could be questioned in new cases.

”Goodyear has not identified any public policy that supports the perpetuation of secrecy of a Goodyear employee’s testimony concerning a possibly defective tire in certain usages,” Brewster said in the order, which upholds a magistrate’s ruling. ”It would be repugnant to the public policy of protecting the health and safety of the public.”

A Montgomery, Ala., plaintiffs lawyer, Rick Morrison, told Bloomberg he already has a deposition scheduled with a Goodyear lawyer, Basil Musnuff, who was present during the employee’s deposition. Morrison has sued Goodyear in a case set for trial in May.

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