Dec 23, 2014
C. Pierce Campbell, a shareholder in our Florence office, was quoted on Dec. 1, 2014 in ABA Litigation News. In the article entitled, “Court Compels Production of Privileged Documents to Shareholders,” Campbell discusses how the attorney-client privilege and work-product protection may not shield corporate documents from shareholder inspection, according to Walmart Store, Inc. v. Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Fund IBEW.
Campbell discusses how the illegality and criminal nature of the purported wrongful action can go a long way in persuading courts that good cause exists and says a court will, “exercise its responsibility to ensure justice in our society. The more wrongful the conduct, the more the court is willing to assist in making sure that justice can be found by those seeking it.”
He goes on to discuss the Garner doctrine and how it is able to protect defendants’ communications, saying it is a, “powerful tool for defense counsel, as it will be hard for a shareholder to specifically identify some of these documents. Defense counsel can argue to the court that this is a blind fishing expedition.” Campbell further adds if there is an attorney whistleblower who, “can identify the specific communications and how they are stored, they can be the key to the shareholders.”
Finally he explains that, “a lot of the Garner factors are out of the attorneys’ hands. The only thing attorneys have control over is whether or not the attorney-client information is intertwined with trade secret issues that do not need to be displayed to the public.”