WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a Feb. 15 merits brief, a trade association tells the U.S. Supreme Court that an exemption of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for “trade secrets and commercial or financial information” merely requires a showing that withheld information was “confidential,” arguing that an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling improperly held that the exemption required establishing that “substantial competitive harm” would result from disclosure (Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, No. 18-481, U.S. Sup.).
LAS VEGAS — A federal judge in Nevada on Feb. 14 overruled objections by two doctors accused of submitting bills to Allstate Insurance Co. and its affiliates for medical services provided to victims of automobile accidents that were not provided or medically unnecessary to a magistrate judge’s ruling denying their motion to quash subpoenas seeking financial records, finding that the requested information is relevant and that the subpoenas cannot be narrowed (Allstate Insurance Co., et al. v. Marjorie Belsky, M.D., et al., No. 15-cv-2265, D. Nev., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24986).
LOS ANGELES — Arguing that VidAngel Inc. waived any attorney-client privilege in a memorandum authored by its lawyer by referencing it as a source of its advice-of-counsel defense against willful copyright infringement, a group of plaintiff movie studios asked a California federal court on Feb. 14 to compel the online movie-filtering service to submit the memorandum and any other documents related to its defenses (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 2:16-cv-04109, C.D. Calif.).
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas discovery rule requiring the production of a testifying expert’s materials does not apply to any that properly qualify as privileged, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Feb. 15, chiding a Texas city for “seek[ing] to broaden the scope of expert discovery to include material that is otherwise protected by the attorney-client privilege” in a Hurricane Ike insurance coverage dispute (In re Dickinson, No. 17-0020, Texas Sup., 2019 Tex. LEXIS 165).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a miscellaneous order issued Feb. 15, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) in a suit that addresses whether a trial court properly struck down a planned U.S. census question over citizenship, as well as whether the court had the authority to order the deposition of the secretary of Commerce to probe his mental processes on the decision to add the citizenship question (U.S. Department of Commerce, et al. v. New York, et al., No. 18-966, U.S. Sup.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The lead plaintiff in a securities class action against a financial institution, its parent holding company and others has failed to show that it exhausted its administrative remedies before bringing a motion to compel the production of protected documents, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Feb. 12 (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority v. Orrstown Financial Services Inc., et al., No. 12-0993, M.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22436).
CINCINNATI — A trial court correctly found that a building owner’s delay in informing its insurer of a rain storm damage claim voided its coverage, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 8, also affirming a finding that documents withheld from discovery by the insurer were prepared in expectation of litigation and, therefore, privileged (South Fifth Towers LLC v. Aspen Insurance UK Ltd., et al., No. 18-5440, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3939).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A New York federal magistrate on Feb. 6 recommended that an insurer’s motions for leave to amend its answer to include certain counterclaims, to compel and for sanctions be granted and that the insureds’ motion to file a second amended complaint be denied in a coverage dispute following Superstorm Sandy (Robert and Laura Toussie v. Allstate Insurance Company, No. 15-5235, E. D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20309).
TULSA, Okla. — In a lawsuit over alleged disparagement to a self-insurance products distributor during the promotion of a competitor’s products to school districts, an insurance agency and agent in a Feb. 8 motion ask an Oklahoma federal court to compel the trustees of Oklahoma School Risk Management Trust (OSRMT) to produce certain documents (The Sandner Group – Alternative Risk Solutions Inc. v. BancFirst Insurance Services Inc., et al., No. 18-0265, N.D. Okla.).
HOUSTON — Adopting a magistrate’s recommendation, a Texas federal judge on Feb. 7 denied an online retailer’s motion to dismiss a Lanham Act lawsuit over its alleged sale of counterfeit goods for lack of jurisdiction, finding that good cause exists to conduct limited discovery as to whether Texas jurisdiction is proper (Danny Huynh v. Zurno Inc., No. 4:18-cv-01756, S.D. Texas, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20360).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Feb. 4 ruled that the U.S. Forest Service was justified in invoking some Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exceptions but not others in an environmental group’s challenge of Nestle Waters North America Inc.’s license to take water from the San Bernardino National Forest (Story of Stuff Project v. United States Forest Service, No. 18-170, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17158).
PORTLAND, Ore. — Addressing motions to compel by both sides in a consolidated class action over a 2014 data breach experienced by Premera Blue Cross, an Oregon federal judge on Feb. 6 denied the health insurer’s request to inspect the computers and devices of the named plaintiffs, finding the request to be “not proportional to the needs of the case” and outweighed by the plaintiffs’ privacy interests (In Re: Premera Blue Cross Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, No. 3:15-md-02633, D. Ore., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20279).
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A New York federal judge on Feb. 4 rejected a request to stay enforcement of an order requiring an investment group and its founder to produce documents under an arbitration panel’s summonses in a fraud case against a reinsurer and a hedge fund (Washington National Insurance Co. v. OBEX Group LLC, et al., No. 18-9693, S.D. N.Y.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Feb. 1 filed a reply brief in response to a California federal court’s order to show cause, arguing that a Federal Bureau of Investigation declaration should remain classified and inaccessible to Twitter Inc. in a lawsuit focusing on the social network’s quest to inform the public about its compelled role in the FBI’s surveillance program (Twitter Inc. v. Matthew G. Whitaker, et al., No. 4:14-cv-04480, N.D. Calif.).
TACOMA, Wash. — A federal judge in Washington on Jan. 31 stayed a lawsuit brought by an environmental group against the owners of a landfill over discharges of storm water that allegedly violate the Clean Water Act so the defendant companies could work with the Washington Department of Ecology to resolve uncertainties about the companies’ National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits (Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. Pierce County Recycling, Composting & Disposal LLC, et al., No. C17-5731 BHS, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15736).
NEW YORK — In a breach of contract lawsuit regarding claims under facultative reinsurance contracts for losses of $2.5 million, a New York federal judge on Jan. 31 issued a civil case discovery plan and scheduling order (Continental Insurance Company of New Jersey, et al. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA, No. 18-4715, S.D. N.Y.).
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Letters written to a New York federal judge on Jan. 31 address whether an investment group and its founder should be forced to produce documents under an arbitration panel’s summonses in a fraud case against a reinsurer and a hedge fund (Washington National Insurance Co. v. OBEX Group LLC, et al., No. 18-9693, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK — Steven R. Donziger, the attorney who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. in a court in Ecuador for injuries only to have it reversed, on Jan. 29 filed a brief in New York federal court opposing Chevron’s motion for permission to seize, “image” and search all of his electronic devices and online accounts on grounds that it is “entirely unjustified” (Chevron Corporation v. Steven Donziger, No. 11-691, S.D. N.Y.).
FLINT, Mich. — A federal judge in Michigan on Jan. 29 denied in part a motion to compel filed by the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF) seeking records from a number of chiropractic clinics and employees accused of engaging in a scheme intended to fraudulently generate bills for unnecessary medical services provided to individuals submitted claims for no-fault personal injury protection benefits, ordering the facility to refine its records requests and the defendants to provide more details for their objections (Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility v. New Grace Rehabilitation Center PLLC, et al., No. 17-11007, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13511).
WILKESBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina judge on Jan. 25 refused to reconsider the denial of a franchisor’s motion to compel requests related to the financial impact of its alleged overpricing on franchisees’ businesses, finding that the decision contained no clear error or misapplied applicable law (Window World of Baton Rouge LLC, et al. v. Window World Inc., et al., Nos. 15 CVS 1, 15 CVS 2, N.C. Super., Wilkes Co., 2019 NCBC LEXIS 7).