CHICAGO — The investigatory authority of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act “hinges on the information requested and its relation to an actual or potential ERISA violation,” a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 12, upholding enforcement of an administrative subpoena issued against an entity that argued that it is not a fiduciary.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on Aug. 8 lifted $100-per-day discovery sanctions for contempt she had imposed against hundreds of asbestos personal injury claimants in the Chapter 11 case of Georgia-Pacific spinoff Bestwall LLC for not providing complete information to the debtor in a discovery questionnaire, citing “substantial compliance” with the questionnaire requirements since the sanctions began.
BOSTON — Denying a motion to dismiss the first amended complaint (FAC) in a declaratory judgment suit regarding a stock purchase agreement (SPA) and reinsurance agreement, a Massachusetts federal judge on Aug. 9 called the FAC “somewhat cryptic” but ruled that the action is ripe and declined to dismiss the claims under the Declaratory Judgment Act.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is no circuit split regarding application of the attorney-client privilege to so-called dual-purpose documents, the U.S. government asserts in an Aug. 1 brief opposing a petition for certiorari by a law firm that was compelled to produce its client’s documents, telling the U.S. Supreme Court that a trial court properly employed the primary purpose approach in deciding which documents were privileged.
RALEIGH, N.C — Parties in a suit against a borrower on Aug. 4 filed a joint stipulation in North Carolina federal court agreeing to voluntarily dismiss the borrower’s agent from a suit filed by three insurers against the borrower, seeking to recover $14.5 million pursuant to a loan agreement for its alleged breach of contract in failing to make a first interest payment.
NEW ORLEANS — The confusion resulting from a dispute over which one of two same-named companies is responsible for employing an asbestos-exposed man requires discovery to clarify the facts, a federal judge in Louisiana said Aug. 2.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania appellate panel on July 28 affirmed a trial court’s finding that a homebuilder’s spreadsheets containing lists of customers who complained of water intrusion damage, the same claims brought by the homeowners in the cases on appeal, was not privileged or protected as attorney work product because the documents were factual in nature and prepared by the company’s operations department, not its legal counsel.
GALVESTON, Texas — A Texas federal judge on Aug. 2 directed that employees of the law firm representing a $12.7 million award-creditor, which also hired the daughter of one of the arbitrators who issued the award, answer two specific questions regarding the hiring in addition to previously fulfilled discovery orders, but declined further discovery that “would send us off on a tangent that might never end.”
SHERMAN, Texas — Alleging failure to fully comply with administrative summonses issued during an Internal Revenue Service investigation involving purported “micro-captive” insurance transactions, the U.S. federal government on July 27 petitioned a Texas federal court to enforce those summonses against three entities and the person who is “their owner and/or principal officer.”
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — An employer being investigated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) must return or destroy certain electronically stored information (ESI) that was inadvertently provided in response to discovery requests, a New York federal magistrate judge ruled July 28, granting the DOL’s motion for a protective order and finding that the materials were protected by the informants’, attorney-client and deliberative process privileges.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A discovery request seeking information on products sold during the period of alleged asbestos exposure and limited to facilities where a man worked is reasonably narrow and seeks evidence that could be used in litigating the case, a Rhode Island judge said July 22.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A professional liability, directors and officers liability and fiduciary liability insurer and its insured on July 25 filed a notice of selection of mediator for the insured’s breach of contract lawsuit arising from claims that he was wrongfully terminated by his former employer.
SEATTLE — A federal judge in Washington on July 25 denied a professional liability insurer’s motion to bifurcate and stay discovery of a law firm insured’s extracontractual claims, finding that “bifurcation is not likely to make the resolution of this matter more economical or more expedient.”
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A panel of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on July 19 held that the State Board of Contract Appeals did not err when it found that a state university forfeited its right to recover the costs incurred in remediating allegedly defective carpet and carpet padding because it did not first comply with the written notice requirement in the contract between it and the contractor hired to install the carpet.
SEATTLE — A federal judge in Washington on July 7 granted a developer’s motion for relief in a commercial general liability insurance coverage lawsuit with insurers, ruling that the developer should be provided with additional time to depose witnesses to allow the developer to properly defend its counterclaims against the insurers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of petitioners, who are the subjects of a federal criminal investigation, failed to establish that the use of walled-off filter teams to review and segregate seized information violates the attorney-client privilege or the work-product doctrine, the U.S. government argues in a July 21 brief, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to deny their petition for certiorari because the filter team protocol at issue does not conflict with any appellate ruling.
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INDIANAPOLIS — In a mixed ruling for Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, an Indiana federal magistrate judge on July 7 ordered the company to turn over about half of the documents that it withheld from discovery requests submitted by a customer suing it for real estate settlement and debt collection practices.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Ruling that letters outside the pleadings are “more appropriate for consideration on a more fulsome summary judgment record,” a Florida federal judge on July 18 denied motions by the government to dismiss or sever a claim in a tax attorney’s suit alleging that the Internal Revenue Service treated her unfairly, disclosed confidential return information and “has sought to destroy the microcaptive insurance industry.”
DENVER — The U.S. government on July 1 filed a brief in Colorado federal court contending that it should deny a discovery motion filed by property owners with whom the government is engaged in a mineral rights dispute because the landowners have not carried their burden to demonstrate that they have a legal entitlement to jurisdictional discovery, and the government says the requests themselves are “overbroad.”