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Showing 74 posts in Discovery.

Chancery Denies Derivative Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Work Product Prepared by Oracle’s Special Litigation Committee

Posted In Chancery, Derivative Claims, Discovery, Privilege

In re Oracle Corp. Derivative Litig., C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. July 9, 2020)

After investigating certain potential derivative claims arising out of Oracle Corporation’s acquisition of NetSuite, Inc., and after trying unsuccessfully to settle those claims, Oracle’s Special Litigation Committee (“SLC”) agreed that permitting a derivative plaintiff to pursue those claims was in Oracle’s best interests. This opinion concerns the lead derivative plaintiff’s subsequent motion to compel, which sought the production of forty-two documents the SLC withheld on work product grounds. The documents at issue were the SLC’s counsel’s notes and memoranda of witness interviews, factual summaries prepared by the SLC’s counsel, counsel’s draft report to the SLC, and financial analyses and damages models prepared by or at the direction of the SLC’s counsel. The Court found that all forty-two documents were protected work product because they were created in anticipation of litigation in order to aid the SLC in connection with this action. In addition, the documents were afforded a higher degree of protection as opinion work product because they also reflected attorney thoughts and impressions. More ›

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Chancery Finds Party Waived Privilege When Documents Were Produced to FCC

Posted In Chancery, Discovery, Privilege

In re Straight Path Communications Inc. Consol. S’holder Litig., C.A. No. 2017-0486-SG (Del. Ch. June 15, 2020)

Plaintiffs brought a Motion to Compel seeking thirty-one documents withheld by Defendant on attorney-client privilege grounds. The documents had previously been disclosed by Defendant to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) in 2016 during an investigation related to the current litigation. Plaintiffs did not argue that the documents were not privileged at the time of creation, but rather that the privilege was waived when the Defendant provided those documents to the government. More ›

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Chancery Finds Pre-Closing Privilege Did Not Transfer to Buyer Under Asset Purchase Agreement

Posted In Discovery, M&A, Privilege

DLO Enterprises, Inc. v. Innovative Chemical Products Group, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0276-MTZ (Del. Ch. June 1, 2020).

Defendants/Counterclaim Plaintiffs (“Buyers”) acquired substantially all of the assets of Arizona Polymer Flooring, Inc., later renamed DLO Enterprises, Inc. (“Sellers”). Sellers filed this action disputing who was financially responsible for certain defective products. During discovery, Sellers produced several pre-closing communications with their counsel that were redacted in part to protect the privilege. Buyers filed a motion to compel unredacted copies of the documents. More ›

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Delaware Superior Court CCLD Addresses Claim of Common Interest Privilege over Merger Agreement Parties’ Post-Signing, Pre-Closing Communications

Posted In CCLD, Discovery, M&A, Privilege

The American Bottling Co. v. Repole, C.A. No. N19C-03-048 AML CCLD (Del. Super. May 12, 2020)

Delaware courts will apply the common interest doctrine when two parties, represented by counsel, exchange privileged information with one another concerning a legal matter in which they have a shared interest. To maintain the privilege, the common interest must involve predominantly legal issues, rather than a common economic interest in a commercial venture. If there is no common interest, a party who shares privileged materials with a third-party will generally waive the privilege.  More ›

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Chancery Holds Plaintiffs’ Emails with Counsel on Defendants’ Server Are Privileged Due to Application of Argentine Law

Posted In Discovery, Privilege

Lynch v. Gonzalez, C.A. No. 2019-0356-MTZ (Del. Ch. Nov. 18, 2019).

The plaintiff brought suit seeking confirmation that it validly acquired from defendants a majority ownership interest and the concomitant right to manage Grupo Belleville Holdings, LLC (the “Company”), a Delaware limited liability company. The discovery motion at-issue addresses the confidentiality of emails between Plaintiff and his counsel – complicated by the fact that they are stored by a server owned and operated by the defendants. To explain, the defendants had provided the Argentina-based Company and its employees, including the plaintiff, with email addresses for the purpose of executing their job duties. The email addresses and the server on which the emails were stored were not owned by the Company, however; rather, it was known to all involved that they belonged to a separate company of the Defendants. The emails at issue were between plaintiff Lynch and two in-house Company attorneys who also provided legal advice to him on personal matters, distinct from advice they provided him in his capacity as the Company’s manager. In discovery, Lynch sought to vindicate the privilege. He moved to compel the defendants to turn over the emails, but the defendants refused. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Reminds Counsel of Obligation to Prevent Clients’ Abusive Deposition Misconduct

In re: Shorenstein Hays-Nederlander Theatres LLC Appeals, Consol. C.A. Nos. 596, 2018 and 620, 2018 (Del. Jun. 20, 2019).

 “Depositions are court proceedings, and counsel defending the deposition have an obligation to prevent their deponent from impeding or frustrating a fair examination.”  After reversing and remanding a contractual dispute involving  popular Broadway shows back to the Court of Chancery on unrelated grounds, the Delaware Supreme Court included an Addendum to its opinion reprimanding an out-of-state attorney for permitting his client to engage in abusive deposition misconduct.  During the deposition, Carole Shorenstein Hays, a prominent theater producer, repeatedly provided answers characterized by the Supreme Court as ridiculous, problematic, flagrantly evasive, nonresponsive, and flippant.   Among other things, Hays claimed not to know whether she earned a university degree, claimed not to measure time in hours, refused to answer myriad straightforward questions, and made unprompted speeches in which she likened herself to Judy Garland and the deposition to a “piece of theatre that’s being recorded.”  While no Delaware attorney for Hays attended the deposition, the two attorneys representing her were both admitted pro hac vice and made no attempt to stop her misconduct.  The Court of Chancery had previously awarded attorneys’ fees and costs for this bad faith misconduct, and that ruling was not challenged on appeal.  The Supreme Court felt compelled, however, to address the situation.  The Supreme Court reasoned that, faced with such conduct, the deponent’s counsel “cannot simply be a spectator and do nothing.”  In addition, “Delaware counsel moving the admission of out of state counsel pro hac vice also bear responsibility in such a situation.  They must ensure that the attorney being admitted reviews the Principles of Professionalism for Delaware Lawyers, but they must also ensure that the out-of-state counsel understands what is expected of them in managing deposition proceedings outside the courthouse so that the litigation process is not abused.”  In light of restrictions Delaware court rules and precedent impose on conferring with a client-deponent during the deposition, the Supreme Court advised that these points “should be addressed beforehand in the deposition preparation.”

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Court of Chancery Addresses Discovery Abuses

Posted In Discovery

Terramar Retail Centers LLC v. Marion #2-Seaport Trust, C.A. No 12875-VCL (Del. Ch. Dec. 4, 2018)

The Court of Chancery has long demanded that litigants abide by the discovery rules and respect scheduling orders. This is an excellent summary of Delaware discovery obligations and a good list of many ways a litigant can go wrong in responding to discovery. More ›

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Court Of Chancery Explains Privilege Limits Involving Corporate Investigations

Posted In Discovery

Akorn Inc. v. Fresemus Kabi A.G., C.A. 2018-0300-JTL (May 22, 2018) and Sandys v. Pincus, C.A. 9512-CB (July 2, 2018)

Corporate investigations present complicated issue surrounding what must later be produced in litigation. Context means everything in those disputes. Discovery into the decision by a SLC is much more limited than in other litigation, for example. But these two transcript rulings are useful for their insights into how the Court of Chancery handles disputes over discovery into the investigation process. More ›

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Court of Chancery Addresses Discovery Obligations Regarding Text Messages

Posted In Discovery, Electronic Discovery

In re Appraisal of Kate Spade Company, C.A. No. 2017-0714-AGB (Del. Ch. June 21, 2018)

The duty to collect and produce non-privileged relevant information extends beyond email to text messages and other forms of electronic communications. Standard practice in Delaware involves at least inquiring of custodians the extent to which they used text messages to engage in substantive communications on potentially relevant topics and to collect text message data when they answer affirmatively, absent an agreement to contrary between the parties. This bench ruling addresses that practice and reflects the Chancellor’s view that text messages often may be a critical source of information.

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Delaware Superior Court Explains Impact Of European Data Rules On Forum Motion

Posted In Discovery

Ethica Corporate Finance S.r.L. v. Dana Incorporated, C.A. No. N17C-10-145 EMD CCLD (August 16, 2018)

Under the Cryo-Maid decision, a forum non conveniens motion must consider the impact on a defendant forced to litigate in Delaware when discovery is needed in a foreign land.  Here the Court considered the impact of the recent amendments to the Italian Data Protection Code on discovery and found that it did not impose an undue hardship under the facts present in this case. This may become more important as those European laws on privacy protection start to be considered for their effect on litigation outside of the EU.

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Court of Chancery Explains Investment Bankers’ Discovery Obligations

Posted In Discovery

Cumming v. Edens, C.A. No. 13007-VCS (Del. Ch. July 12, 2018)

This transcript ruling makes two important points about discovery obligations in the Court of Chancery.  First, blanket form objections to document requests amount to a waiver of otherwise valid objections. Objections to scope and burden and the like need to be spelled out specifically with supporting facts.  Second, investment bankers, even as third parties to a litigation, generally will not get far with objecting to requests on the basis of burden.  Given their role in many transactions, they are front and center, house a lot of critically relevant information, and have been paid well enough to cover the expenses associated with production.  In short, they are not your typical third party who may be given some more leeway when it comes to discovery burdens.

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Court Of Chancery Denies Garner Exception Absent A Fiduciary Duty

Posted In Discovery

Morris v. Spectra Energy Partners (DE) GP, LP C.A. 12110-VCG (May 7, 2018)

The famous Garner case permits inspection of otherwise privileged communications when its strict criteria are satisfied. But as this decision decides for the first time in Delaware, Garner does not apply when there is no fiduciary relationship between the party seeking discovery and the party claiming the privilege. Here the LLP agreement waived any fiduciary duties. Thus, Garner did not apply and discovery was denied.

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Court Of Chancery Imposes Sanctions For Failing To Comply With A Scheduling Order

Posted In Delaware Procedure/Rules, Discovery

In RE Examworks Group Inc. Stockholder Appraisal Litigation, C.A. 12688-VCL (February 21, 2018)

As this decision again points out, a scheduling order is a court order that must be followed or sanctions will be imposed. Late production of documents is just such a sanctionable event.

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Court Of Chancery Explains Discovery Objections

Posted In Discovery

In Re Oxbow Carbon LLC Unitholder Litigation, C.A. No. 12447-VCL (March 13, 2017)

For some time now, the Court of Chancery has told litigants that objections to documents requests should be specific, not generic and boilerplate. This decision thoroughly addresses the case law on this issue, with numerous citations to federal court precedent and detailed explanations of what objections are proper, including for claims of privilege. Oxbow should serve as a useful resource when it comes time to object to document requests in the Court of Chancery.

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Court Of Chancery Addresses M&A Discovery

Posted In Discovery, M&A

Hamilton Partners L.P. v. Highland Capital Management L.P.,  C.A. 6547-VCN (February 2, 2016)

Discovery of financial information in M&A litigation, including appraisal actions, often involves two issues: (1) how far back before the transaction should there be discovery and (2) is post-transaction discovery permitted? This decision provides some guidance on both issues.

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