Questioning the litigation tactics of his former Big Law attorneys and criticizing a federal magistrate judge, a former recruiter at MWK Recruiting tried to convince the judge he should not be sanctioned in connection with a discovery dispute in a trade secrets case pending in Austin.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin of the Western District of Texas asked recruiter Evan Jowers and his attorney, Robert Tauler of California, to file responses this week on why he should not sanction them in connection with the discovery dispute.
In individual responses filed Tuesday, both Jowers and Tauler said sanctions are not warranted. But Jowers, in a 36-page filing, also criticized Austin’s previous rulings in the litigation and said he has no faith in the court.
“I can say without any doubt that I do not trust you as a judge in my case for any fair and just rulings,” Jowers, an attorney who is a co-founder of Jowers Vargas recruiting in Hong Kong, wrote.
He also wrote that he raised many questions with his former attorneys from DLA Piper about how they were handling the litigation, and alleged he and Tauler “pleaded with my DLA attorneys before your May hearing to reconsider their strategy.”
Marc Katz, one of Jowers’ former lawyers on the suit and managing partner of DLA Piper’s Dallas office, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
MWK Recruiting, a parent of Kinney Recruiting and related companies, sued former employee Jowers, alleging he took trade secrets and proprietary information when he left the company in 2016. The litigation has become contentious, with Austin at a hearing in May saying the lawyers were spending too much time and money on process and not on the facts of the case.
Jowers’ lawyers from DLA withdrew from representing him about a month after that hearing, where Austin had aired his frustration with the lawyers involved, asking them to quit the “game playing.”
However, discovery disputes have continued, and in a December order Austin found that Jowers’ position that he should not have to turn over information about his placements to MWK Recruiting had no merit. Austin called Jowers’ actions and the actions of his attorney Tauler “petty and unprofessional.”
In his response, Jowers criticized Judge Austin’s order, saying the “sensational language” in the order was “very inappropriate,” as were the “baseless and wild assumptions and made-up stories” about him and Tauler.
“These erroneous assumptions about me thrown out in the media have already caused me harm, more so than any sanctions you can provide, and caused me to have no faith in your court,” Jowers wrote.
Jowers wrote that Judge Austin has things “mixed up” by writing in the show-cause order that his and Tauler’s handling of the discovery dispute is “deplorable,” when MWK Recruiting owner Robert Kinney of Austin is the litigious one.
Kinney declined to comment on that particular assertion, but he commented generally on Jowers’ response. “It’s not the approach I would have taken. I didn’t see any hint of contrition. It’s not the way you speak to a court, ” Kinney said.
Jowers also wrote that Judge Austin’s prior “ sensational” rulings in the litigation give him the attention he “craves.” He alleged that the judge has been “grossly negligent” in connection with the litigation.
Jowers writes as well that it’s not true that Tauler has not tried to confer with attorneys representing MWK on discovery issues, but has been “completely rebuffed.”
He alleges that Kinney’s main goal is to bankrupt him by running up legal fees, while his burden is less because Kinney is on MWK’s legal team, and doing some legal work for his own company.
In his own separate response to the show cause order, Tauler wrote he has earnestly tried to follow rules of the court and had no intention of abusing the discovery process. In particular, he wrote, he had no intention of “doubling down” on conduct that led to the court’s criticism of Jowers’ former lawyers from DLA Piper at the hearing in May. Tauler also wrote that he did not file any of the motions at issue before “all reasonable efforts to resolve the dispute with opposing counsel were exhausted.”
Judge Austin has announced his retirement, likely set for next month.
‘Petty and Unprofessional’: Judge Threatens Sanctions in Legal Recruiter Trade Secrets Case
US Magistrate Judge Andy Austin Is Retiring. Here’s What He’s Doing Next