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Taylor v. Sturgell

United States Supreme Court
553 U.S. 880 (2008)

Taylor v. Sturgell

Facts

Brent Taylor (plaintiff), an antique aircraft enthusiast, filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to obtain via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the plans for a particular model plane’s engine. Prior to Taylor’s suit, his friend, Greg Herrick, also an antique aircraft enthusiast, filed a similar suit in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming seeking the same information. Herrick’s suit was dismissed when the agency he made the request to, the FAA (defendant), refused to release the plans at issue. The FAA stated that they would not release the information as it constituted trade secrets on the part of the company that built the engine, Fairchild Corporation (defendant). When Herrick produced a letter written by Fairchild in 1955 that appeared to be a repudiation of trade secret protection on Fairchild’s part, the FAA contacted the company, which exercised its trade secret protection. Herrick’s suit was then dismissed. Taylor sued, represented by the same attorney, arguing in addition to claims raised in Herrick’s suit that Fairchild is not able to now use trade secret protections when it appeared to dispense with them years prior. The district court granted summary judgment to the FAA and Fairchild, finding that Taylor’s claim was barred by claim preclusion. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed, finding that Taylor was “virtually represented” by Herrick. Herrick appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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