WPP Lawyer to Court: Don't Allow Video Into Evidence

Filing Says Agency Has Not Seen Video of Alleged Slurs By Martinez

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Just hours after Gustavo Martinez resigned as chairman-CEO of WPP's JWT in the wake of a lawsuit, the company's lawyer filed a letter to the judge assigned to the case objecting to the inclusion of a video into evidence.

Erin Johnson
Erin Johnson Credit: J. Walter Thompson Company

The lawsuit, filed on March 10 by Erin Johnson against Mr. Martinez and JWT, charges Mr. Martinez with making racial and sexist slurs. The original filing said that some of the evidence was taped. Ms. Johnson's lawyers on March 14 filed an amended lawsuit, which asked for approval to include a video they say shows Mr. Martinez making some of the alleged racist and sexist comments. The amended filing also takes issue with the agency's investigation into the matter.

WPP is objecting to the plaintiff's request to "annex" the video, acording to a letter from Howard Rubin, an attorney at Davis & Gilbert, the firm representing Mr. Martinez, WPP and JWT, to Judge J. Paul Oetken, which asks the court to deny permission. The letter said that the video is related to "the development and testing of a process that is highly confidential and proprietary to JWT. This process, called the Pioneering Process, establishes best practices for JWT management around the world to work as a more connected network in delivering best ideas to clients. JWT has endeavored to keep the thinking behind the Process confidential and disclosure to competitors through a public filing would cause significant damage to it."

Moreover, the letter to the court states that WPP has not seen a copy of the video and that the alleged evidence was deleted. Ms. Johnson, the letter said, "directed the videographer to delete the portion of the tape that is referred to in the Amended Complaint and the raw footage of the meeting was thereafter destroyed." The letter also said that Ms. Johnson kept the only copy of the fuller version of the video, and that JWT did not even know that version existed. The letter noted she's been out of the office since Feb. 23 "when her lawyers insisted that she be given a paid leave of absence."

Lawyers for Ms. Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The letter essentially questions the admissibility of the video, a question the letter said "should be resolved at the appropriate time in the litigation."

The letter also said that "we have asked Plaintiff's lawyer on more than one occasion for a copy of this video and she has refused to provide it to us."

"Moreover, there is no reason for Plaintiff to file this video at this time other than to continue Plaintiff's counsel's efforts to try this case in the press," the letter continued. "Notably, Plaintiff's counsel gave an interview this past weekend alerting reporters about the existence of the tape," which referred to a story published over the weekend by Campaign. "Thus, by Plaintiff's counsel's admission, the filing of the video is unnecessary."

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