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Judge dismisses Eaton's trade secrets lawsuit

JACKSON — A Mississippi judge has dismissed a $1-billion trade secrets lawsuit filed by power management company Eaton Corp. against a rival, saying once-prominent attorney Ed Peters worked on Eaton’s behalf to influence former judge Bobby DeLaughter in the case.

“The court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that Eaton and its counsel were aware of and, in fact, sanctioned Peters’ clandestine actions, either through affirmation or inaction, with then-Judge DeLaughter, for Eaton’s benefit,” Yerger said in his order dismissing Eaton’s lawsuit against rival Frisby Aerospace.

Eaton spokesman Don McGrath told the paper that Yerger’s ruling would be appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. McGrath said Eaton never asked Peters to try to influence former Judge Bobby DeLaughter or any other judge.

DeLaughter and Peters are no strangers to allegations of wrongdoing. DeLaughter pleaded guilty in 2009 in federal court in Oxford to obstruction of justice for lying to an FBI agent about communication with Peters in an unrelated case. Peters was given immunity in the case and gave up his license to practice law in Mississippi. He has made no public statements about the Eaton case.

McGrath said it shouldn’t be forgotten that the case’s central issue is the allegation of the theft of thousands of documents with trade secrets developed at the company’s Jackson operation that were taken to a competitor.

An attorney for that competitor praised the Yerger decision.

“It’s a good day for justice in Mississippi,” said Alan Perry, an attorney for Frisby, which is now known as Triumph Actuation Systems.

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