Beleaguered engineer Anthony Levandowski can plead the Fifth Amendment, but it cannot keep Uber from holding on to documents pertinent to the case.
The U.S. Court of Appeals compelled Uber to hand over a privilege log with details regarding Levandowski's legal setup with Uber. Levandowski earlier invoked the Fifth Amendment during the case proceedings, citing that handing over the documents will incriminate him.
Court Denies Levandowski's Appeal
In a decision released by the U.S. Court of Appeals, presiding Judge William H. Alsup denied Levandowski's petition to prevent Uber from handing over an unredacted privilege log, pleading the Fifth Amendment. But the court disagreed with Levandowski.
"Mr. Levandowski argues that he is entitled to relief under the Fifth Amendment because production of the unredacted privilege log could potentially incriminate him," the U.S. Court of Appeals wrote in the four-page decision.
The order said Levandowski failed to persuade the Court of Appeals that the district court erred in its judgment. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California earlier ruled that Uber produce the privilege log.
"Mr. Levandowski has therefore failed to establish that he has a 'clear and indisputable' right to the issuance of a writ of mandamus," the decision wrote.
A writ of mandamus is an "order that is issued from a court of superior jurisdiction that commands an inferior tribunal, corporation, Municipal Corporation, or individual to perform, or refrain from performing, a particular act, the performance or omission of which is required by law as an obligation." In this case, Levandowski argues that the district court cannot issue the decision ordering Uber to release the unredacted documents.
The appeals court also argued that the order for the document release was directed to Uber, not Levandowski. The decision will compel Uber to produce a due diligence report that the district court earlier scheduled.
Waymo And Uber Legal Battle Heats Up
The legal dispute started in February when Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google, sued Uber. Levandowski, a former engineer at Waymo who developed some of the key technologies for Waymo's self-driving car, allegedly illegally downloaded 14,000 files containing Waymo's trade secrets (the U.S. Court of Appeals acknowledged this in its decision).
Levandowski then resigned from Google and built his own self-driving vehicle startup, Otto Trucking. Uber purchased Otto on August 2016 for $680 million. Waymo alleges that Uber purchased Levandowski's company to acquire the stolen technology.