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LITTLEJOHN v. BIC CORP.

October 11, 1988

CYNTHIA LITTLEJOHN, Plaintiff,
v.
BIC CORPORATION, et al., Defendants. BIC CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. MEL D. KARDOS, Respondent



The opinion of the court was delivered by: KATZ

 MARVIN KATZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 A. FINDINGS of FACT

 1. Plaintiff Cynthia Littlejohn commenced this products liability action against defendant Bic Corporation ("Bic") on October 1, 1985. Plaintiff sought damages for injuries she sustained when a lighter manufactured by Bic ignited while in the pocket of her clothing. Littlejohn's attorney is respondent Mel D. Kardos.

 2. On July 30, 1986, during the discovery phase of this action, this court entered a Protective Order stipulated to by all parties. The Protective Order stated, inter alia, that

 
At the conclusion of the proceedings in this action, all documents and information subject to this Order, including any copies or extracts or summaries thereof, or documents containing information taken therefrom, shall be returned to counsel for the defendant. Violation by any persons of the terms of this Order shall be punishable as a contempt of this Court.

 3. The Protective Order did not explicitly cover deposition testimony read into the trial record or exhibits admitted into evidence.

 4. In reliance on the Protective Order, Bic produced company records marked "Company Confidential" for plaintiff's review.

 5. This court bifurcated the trial of this case. Two Bic intercompany memoranda, P-38 and P-39, were admitted into evidence; P-37 was not specifically referred to during the trial and was not admitted into evidence.

 6. Kardos, at all material times, believed that the evidence introduced at trial included portions of the deposition of Leonard T. Coppetta, which were read to the jury. These portions, Kardos believed, included a discussion of "Coppetta-2," seven Bic intercompany memoranda concerning lighter audits performed in 1981. Kardos reasonably believed that "Coppetta-2" was the same document as the one listed as P-37 on plaintiff's list of trial exhibits.

 7. At the conclusion of the liability trial, Kardos made a blanket for admission of plaintiff's exhibits. Counsel for Bic objected only as to the plaintiff's shoes and trousers. The motion was granted.

 8. Kardos reasonably and in good faith believed that P-37 was admitted into the judicial record. However, Kardos' belief was mistaken.

 9. On October 3, 1986, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Littlejohn on liability. The case then was settled.

 10. On February 20, 1987, after the conclusion of the action, Bic filed a petition for contempt against Kardos with this Court and requested the return of Bic "Company Confidential" documents from Kardos. The ...


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