No Deal in Sight: Melaleuca and former employee can’t agree on what should be public record in civil case

From the Post Register

By Corey Taule

IDAHO FALLS – The argument about what the public should know about a civil case between Melaleuca Inc. and its former vice president of marketing remains unresolved.

Said Ron Swafford, the attorney for former Melaleuca employee Jeff Wasden: “(Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot) doesn’t want anything to be available to the public.”

VanderSloot declined comment. He cited a court document in which District Court Judge Brent Moss made clear that neither party was to seek publicity.

“The parties are directed to refrain from contacting the press or media in an effort to place stories in the media, or to otherwise gain public relations points, about this litigation, as same may adversely affect the ability of the court to obtain a fair and impartial jury,” Moss wrote.

Here’s what we know: Melaleuca and VanderSloot sued Wasden for allegedly violating a separation agreement and recruiting key employees. Wasden denies this, and in a counter claim accused Melaleuca of breach of contract and VanderSloot of defamation.

Saying it worried about proprietary information being made public, Melaleuca asked the court to seal the case file and close the courtroom to the public.

Attorney Steve Wright, representing the Post Register, filed a brief with the court saying that the possibility of trade secrets being revealed is not a reason to seal the entire case and lock the public out of the courtroom.

The brief said the newspaper has no interest in publishing Melaleuca’s trade secrets and that the information could simply be redacted from the court file.

Moss kicked the issue back to the lawyers, telling them to come up with a compromise about what should be public record. That was in April. Swafford and Melaleuca attorney Curt Thomsen tried and failed.

At about that time, Moss was severely injured after falling off a horse, which delayed proceedings. A hearing scheduled Oct. 1 to address the issue has been delayed because Moss will be out of town. It has been rescheduled for Oct.16.

“I wanted to get that pinned down and have the judge tell us what is public record and what is not,” Swafford said.

It appears that decision will be left to Moss, the fourth judge to be assigned the case.

After each side disqualified one judge, the court assigned the case to new District Court Judge Darren Simpson.

But Wasden argued that he couldn’t get a fair trial because VanderSloot publicly and financially backed Simpson’s successful election effort against incumbent James Herndon. Simpson then stepped down.

From the Post Register

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