November 7, 2014 / 2:05 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. judge blocks Walgreens' move to seal all material in ex-CFO suit

(Adds Walgreens comment)

By Nandita Bose

CHICAGO, Nov 6 (Reuters) - A Chicago court on Thursday rejected Walgreens’ move to block all disclosures of what the drugstore chain deems confidential information in a defamation lawsuit filed by its former chief financial officer.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Franklin Valderrama said Walgreens, the largest U.S. drugstore chain operator, failed to convince him that all the allegations were confidential and called the company’s request for a protective order “broad.”

He did, however, grant parts of the company’s request, and said most of the elements of the complaint could be sealed.

Former Chief Financial Officer Wade Miquelon, whom the company replaced in August, sued for defamation, saying news reports suggested he was personally responsible for a $1 billion error in an earnings forecast.

Miquelon also said in his suit that Walgreens’ characterizations of him have hurt his efforts to find a new position.

In declining Walgreens’ motion, the judge said the court is not opposed to a protective order, but found the company’s request “overly protective.”

“The whole point of a protective order is to not put a gag on the plaintiff,” Valderrama said.

Chuck Douglas, attorney for Walgreens and partner at Sidley Austin LLP, said in a statement the court indicated its willingness to enter a fresh protective order with appropriate language, which the company hopes to file next week.

“The court’s ruling today accepted Walgreens view that the plaintiff should have filed his complaint under seal... and that certain portions of the complaint should therefore be redacted,” Douglas said in a statement.

An attorney for Miquelon, David Bernick of Dechert LLP, said he was not unhappy with the ruling.

On Wednesday, pension adviser CtW Investment Group said it asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to probe whether legal claims made by Miquelon violated securities rules. (Reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Dan Grebler and Lisa Shumaker)

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