Why is the FBI investigating the Liebherr Mining lawsuit?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is requesting documents from a 2013 lawsuit involving Liebherr Mining that accuses several former workers of trade secret theft, according to the Daily Press.
The lawsuit, which is in the process of being dropped, claims six former employees at its Newport News production plants stole thousands of design documents and then sold the information to copycat manufacturers in China. An engineering firm in Detroit is also listed in the lawsuit, claiming it assisted Chinese companies with designs and Chinese manufacturing partnerships that imitated Liebherr’s 400 ton diesel truck.
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The FBI’s Detroit office filed a request with the Newport News Circuit Court on May 13 asking the clerk’s office for 32 documents from the lawsuit. The collected documents include initial complaints and two amended complaints; 12 answers to those complaints by the defendants; some email documents; and 15 exhibits.
"I don't have a comment," said David Porter, press spokesman with the FBI’s Detroit office. "No one should presume that (the lack of comment) means one thing or another. That's always our answer when we're asked if we can confirm an investigation regarding A, B and C."
Spokeswoman for the FBI's Norfolk office, Christina Pullen, would also not comment why the Detroit office asked for the case filings. "I cannot respond to what Detroit is doing," said Pullen. "I can't respond to anything on any potential or pending investigations. That's just our standard."
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Although it’s unclear why the FBI would get involved, the agency has recently made it a national priority to go after economic espionage in which foreign entities steal American business trade secrets.
Last month, Liebherr’s attorney Brett A. Spain with the Norfolk office of the Willcox & Savage law firm told the Newport News Circuit Court judge Timothy Fisher the company plans to ‘nonsuit’ the case against most defendants. Under the legal mechanism of a nonsuit, Liebherr will have six months to refile the lawsuit against the remaining defendants. If the case is not refilled within the allotted six months, it will be dismissed.
(Source: Daily Press)