Citation. 558 U.S. 100 (2009)
Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiff sued Defendant for firing him under false pretenses. Plaintiff filed a motion to compel disclosure of conversations between Plaintiff and Defendant’s attorney prior to this lawsuit.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Decisions compelling disclosure of information otherwise protected by attorney-client privilege are not immediately reviewable under the collateral order doctrine.
Norman Carpenter (Plaintiff) sued Mohawk Industries, Inc. (Defendant), claiming he was fired under false pretenses after alerting human resources that the company was employing undocumented workers. At the time of Plaintiff’s communication with human resources, Defendant was involved in a lawsuit for which it was accused of lowering wages by hiring undocumented workers in violation of federal and state racketeering laws. During discovery, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel disclosure of a conversation between himself and Defendant’s attorney, following his statement to human resources, in which he alleges the attorney attempted to make him recant his statement. Defendant argued the conversation was protected under attorney-client privilege.
Is a decision ordering disclosure of information otherwise protected by attorney-client privilege immediately reviewable under the collateral order doctrine?
No, the decision is not immediately reviewable and the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.
The Court determined that granting the motion to compel disclosure in this case did not qualify as immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine. The decision could adequately be reviewed and remanded as necessary after the final judgment of the proceeding. Additionally the Defendant had other avenues for redress, including certification of an appeal through 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), a writ of mandamus, or defying the order at the expense of incurring sanctions before an appeal.