BASTROP – Rather than freely fork over the records, Bastrop County
and Phipps Deacon Purnell have turned to Texas’ chief attorney in hopes
of keeping just how the firm went about soliciting county officials for
an opioid lawsuit payday under wraps.
Earlier this month, the county received an open records request
seeking all communications from any attorney or law firm seeking
employment to bring litigation on its behalf against opioid
manufactures, according to documents obtained by The Record.
Bastrop County then forwarded the request to Phipps Deacon Purnell, a San Antonio law firm representing the county in its opioid lawsuit.
On Sept. 16, the Bastrop County District Attorney’s Office submitted a request for an Attorney General Decision on the matter.
The following day, Phipps Deacon Purnell sent a letter to the AG’s
Office detailing why exactly the Open Records Division should determine
the requested records to be exempt from disclosure.
“Ultimately, communication and records regarding solicitation of
the County’s business constitute trade secrets and may be properly
withheld under section 552.110 of the Texas Government Code,” the letter
Section 552.110 deals with the confidentiality of trade secrets.
Essentially, the firm is arguing that records of its solicitation
constitute a trade secret because they show legal theories, litigation
strategy and damage models.
“Knowledge of this information by a competitor can be used to gain
advantage over Special Counsel (Phipps Deacon Purnell) in the Texas
Opioid Litigation,” the letter states. “Such information is an integral
part of Special Counsel’s business operations.”
Specifically, the open records request seeks all attorney
solicitation communications, which includes e-mails, letters, marketing
materials and records of “unsolicited” calls and in-person meetings the
firm may have had with the county.
The request also seeks all records indicating whether any attorney
or law firm “initiated” communication with the county to obtain
employment in order to sue opioid manufactures.
In the letter, Phipps Deacon Purnell references an “Exhibit C,”
which is “a solicitation sent by Special Counsel to Bastrop County” that
includes factual analysis, damage models, potential causes of action
against potential defendants, and the firm’s analysis of anticipated
“Special Counsel’s competitors could use this information to their
advantage,” the letter states. “For example, defense counsel could use
elements of Special Counsel’s trial strategy to craft their opposing
trial strategy. Other plaintiffs’ firms would also use the information
contained in Exhibit C to craft competing bids in future solicitations.”
The letter is signed by Jason Milne, attorney for Phipps Deacon Purnell.