PRESS RELEASE: University of Rochester’s Lawyers Breach Witness Confidentiality

On September 25, the University of Rochester’s lawyers Ward Greenberg wrongly divulged the confidential names of 23 women referred to by pseudonyms in the federal case concerning Florian Jaeger, Aslin et al v. University of Rochester et al. These women, who gave often deeply personal accounts of sexual harassment and misconduct by Jaeger, did so based on assurances that Plaintiffs would not release their names publicly, unless required to do so by the court. Ward Greenberg originally insisted that our clients should not be allowed to refer to these women by pseudonym, but the Judge disagreed. He permitted the use of pseudonyms in the public docket in order to protect the privacy of these women, and instead ordered Plaintiffs to provide the real names to Ward Greenberg by private, confidential correspondence. Contrary to the spirit of Judge Vilardo’s order, Ward Greenberg published a complete table of witness names next to their pseudonyms, provided last week by McAllister Olivarius, the Plaintiffs’ attorneys. The table was marked STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL in red capital bold letters at the top, and was attached to a letter that reiterated the need for confidentiality. Nevertheless, Ward Greenberg put the list on the online public court file and left it there for over 13 hours, until Plaintiffs’ attorneys found it and requested its immediate removal. In the meantime, it was freely available on the federal courts’ online public filing system PACER. In fact, this is the third time UR’s lawyers have divulged the identities of confidential witnesses who are willing to testify against UR in the Aslin case. The University’s in-house lawyer Catherine Nearpass did so after producing an internal report exonerating Jaeger. The second time, another law firm hired by UR to carry out an independent investigation released the names of four witnesses. Ward Greenberg was already representing UR at the time of the second breach. Based on this experience, they had to know to be especially careful with confidential identities in this case.

Read the rest of the press release here.