Thursday, April 12, 2007, 4/12/2007 01:49:00 PM

Wal-Mart Obtains Trade Secrets Based TRO After Hours

By Todd
Daily Report is reporting that Arkansas legal rules intended to protect trade secrets from imminent disclosure were the basis for a rare late-night court order obtained by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to stop a former employee from talking about the company's affairs, an expert in civil law said Tuesday.

Wal-Mart lawyers went to Benton County Circuit Court Judge John R. Scott's home around 8 p.m. Friday seeking a temporary emergency order against former security employee Bruce Gabbard without Gabbard or his lawyer present.

The judge granted the temporary restraining order and filed the ruling and complaint in court Monday in Wal-Mart's home county. Rules in Arkansas and most states allow judges to accept emergency filings at all hours, according to civil procedure expert Scott Dodson of the University of Arkansas Law School.

Dodson said that for the judge to make a ruling without the presence of both parties, Wal-Mart would have had to show that the immediate order was necessary to protect trade secrets.
''I'm confident the judge would not have signed such an order without some showing by Wal-Mart that it was necessary to preserve the confidentiality of Wal-Mart's trade secrets over the weekend,'' said Dodson, an assistant law professor at the university in Fayetteville.

''Confidential information and the possibility of immediate disclosure of certain trade secrets or things that could be harmful of a business nature do generally provide adequate justification for such extreme measures,'' Dodson said.

The judge said Monday that it was rare to get a trade secrets case after hours and that the company argued that it was an emergency. He said he could not by law comment on the specifics and referred instead to the court filings.

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