As the discovery process in Jay Palmer's visa fraud lawsuit against Infosys ramps up, the Indian IT services provider has filed a motion for a court order to prevent the public disclosure of proprietary or confidential company information. The protective order that Infosys recommended was granted, but with a caveat: that nothing in the order could preclude Palmer from providing information to the grand jury or to the federal agencies conducting the criminal investigation of Infosys.
Infosys filed the motion seeking the protective order on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, where the trial is slated to begin in late August. According to Palmer's attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, filing such an order is a legitimate and fairly routine procedure, a means of ensuring that personal employee information and proprietary company information are not made public in the course of the discovery process. But there was a problem with the version of the order that Infosys was recommending, and Mendelsohn immediately objected to it. I spoke with him last night, and he explained why:
I objected to it on the grounds that Mr. Palmer is cooperating with a grand jury and several federal agencies, and we felt obligated [to point out] that during the course of this, if we uncover more information about visas or other crimes, we have the duty to report it. The judge agreed, and he added a paragraph that authorizes Jay to testify about any matters he learns about in front of a grand jury, or to provide it to law enforcement agencies.
That paragraph reads as follows:
However, nothing in this order shall be construed as prohibiting the plaintiff from providing truthful testimony before a grand jury, or giving truthful information to legitimate law enforcement investigative authorities.
With that caveat added, the order was filed yesterday. Mendelsohn made it clear that none of this means Infosys can claim confidentiality to avoid providing him with the documents he seeks in the discovery process:
It means that they still produce the documents, and we're entitled to review them, but certain documents that are of a proprietary nature are not to be disclosed to the public. And I have no problem with that. It boils down to whether Infosys is going to do it in good faith, or they're going to try to say that every document they produce is confidential, because they know they don't want me to disclose some of this to the public.
If Infosys were to try to claim some sort of blanket confidentiality as a means of avoiding as much public disclosure as it can, Mendelsohn said, he could fight that by taking the matter to the judge. I asked him if he has any concerns about whether Infosys will act in good faith with respect to what it tries to keep confidential. His response:
I hope they will. They're required by the order to act in good faith, and I certainly hope they will. But I just have to wait and see. That's all I can say.