Washoe County Second Judicial District Court Judge David Hardy today said the private investigator must disclose the client who hired him last year to track the movements of Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and former Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung.
Hardy also said, however, that Schieve and Hartung “failed to state a civil claim for violations of state law.”
Hardy said the private investigator, David McNeely, does not have protection under Nevada law and there are exceptions to maintaining client confidentiality.
“The identity of a private investigator’s single client (in contrast to voluminous customer lists) is not embedded within the definition of a trade secret,” Hardy wrote. “Even if a private investigator derives independent economic value from protecting the identity of a single client, and thus the identity is a trade secret, the trade secret privilege is not absolute.”
An exception, Hardy said, is a “tortious invasion of privacy because a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to his or her daily movements in a motor vehicle.”
McNeely was ordered to name the client by May 12, 2023. He can challenge the decision, however.
Hardy disagreed with Schieve and Hartung on a claim of negligence.
“Based on the arguments presented, this Court declines to dismiss, strike, or require specificity for the requested relief in the forms of injunction or fees as special damages. The relief sought will be visited after discovery or other motion practice is commenced.”
Calls to attorneys on both sides of the case were not returned prior to publication.