Court Excludes Evidence Developed Through Plaintiff’s Surreptitious Contact with Corporate Defendant’s Employees

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Extract from article by Chris Jones

Starting on July 15, 2015, Haidar launched a plan to obtain information from the toilet manufacturer for the benefit of his lawsuit.  Posing as a curious customer, he contacted a series of the manufacturer’s technical and customer support employees by email to ask questions about various elements of the design of the toilet tank lid.  Haidar never disclosed to the manufacturer’s employees that he believed he had been injured by one of its products, or that he was engaged in any related litigation.  Following each exchange with an employee of the toilet manufacturer, Haidar provided a copy of the email correspondence to his attorneys.  This pattern continued until February 25, 2016, months after Haidar filed suit against the manufacturer.  At that point, the toilet manufacturer’s counsel became aware of the contacts and requested that Haidar cease all contact with the manufacturer’s employees.  At his deposition, Haidar admitted that his “contact with [the toilet manufacturer] from the get-go, from the beginning, was related to this lawsuit,” and that he needed to contact the manufacturer because “I have to do what I have to do to protect myself.”

The toilet manufacturer moved to exclude all evidence obtained from Haidar’s contacts with its employees, arguing that this ex-parte discovery, executed through deceptive means, was clearly improper and should not be rewarded.  The Court agreed, noting Haidar’s scheme was a “jig” that “was up” once it was discovered by the manufacturer’s attorneys.