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Teleglobe Communs. Corp. v. BCE, Inc. (In re Teleglobe Communs. Corp.)

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

January 8, 2007, Argued; July 17, 2007, Opinion Filed

No. 06-2915

Case Summary

Procedural Posture

Appellant parent company sought review of an order from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware that compelled the parent company to produce certain documents it regarded as protected by the attorney-client privilege to appellee debtors, companies that had been the parent's subsidiaries.

Overview

The court referred to this case as a classic corporate divorce. The parent company bought another company but, after financials turned sour, the purchased (debtor) company filed for bankruptcy. In bankruptcy, the debtor company subsidiaries sued the parent for all manner of ills relating to the break-up. At issue here was a pre-trial dispute over documents produced by and in communication with attorneys who represented the entire corporate family back when they all got along. The question was whether the parent could assert the attorney-client privilege against its former corporate family members. The court on review concluded that the district court's factual findings did not support setting aside the parent's privilege. Specifically, the court held that the parent could not be compelled to produce documents under the adverse-litigation exception to the co-client privilege unless it was determined that the parent and the debtors were jointly represented by the same attorneys on a matter of common interest that was the subject-matter of those documents. Finding just that the companies were jointly represented was not enough.

Outcome

The court vacated the district court's order compelling production and remanded for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

LexisNexis® Headnotes

 

 

Civil Procedure > Appeals > Appellate Jurisdiction > Collateral Order Doctrine

HN1  Collateral Order Doctrine

Under the collateral order doctrine, there is an exception to the finality requirement of 28 U.S.C.S. § 1291 if the following elements are met: (1) the order from which the appellant appeals conclusively determines the disputed question; (2) the order resolves an important issue that is completely separate from the merits of the dispute; and (3) the order is effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment.

 

Civil Procedure > Appeals > Appellate Jurisdiction > Collateral Order Doctrine

HN2  Collateral Order Doctrine

The first prong of the collateral order doctrine is met when a district court orders the production of documents. Once documents are disclosed, any dispute over their privileged status is effectively moot and unreviewable, as the very purpose of the privilege is frustrated by compelled disclosure.

 

Civil Procedure > Preliminary Considerations > Federal & State Interrelationships > Erie Doctrine

Civil Procedure > ... > Federal & State Interrelationships > Choice of Law > General Overview

HN3  Erie Doctrine

A federal court exercising jurisdiction over state-law claims applies the choice-of-law rules of the forum state.

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493 F.3d 345 ; 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 16942 

IN RE: TELEGLOBE COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION, et al, Debtor; TELEGLOBE USA INC.; OPTEL COMMUNICATIONS INC.; TELEGLOBE HOLDINGS (U.S.) CORPORATION; TELEGLOBE MARINE (U.S.) INC.; TELEGLOBE HOLDING CORP.; TELEGLOBE TELECOM CORPORATION; TELEGLOBE INVESTMENT CORP.; TELEGLOBE SUBMARINE, Teleglobe Submarine Inc.; OFFICIAL COMMITTEE OF UNSECURED CREDITORS OF TELEGLOBE COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION; TELEGLOBE COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION; TELEGLOBE LUXEMBOURG, LLC; TELEGLOBE PUERTO RICO INC. v. BCE INC.; MICHAEL T. BOYCHUK; MARC A. BOUCHARD; SERGE FORTIN; TERENCE J. JARMAN; STEWART VERGE; JEAN C. MONTY; RICHARD J. CURRIE; THOMAS KIERANS; STEPHEN P. SKINNER; H. ARNOLD STEINBERG, Appellants; VARTEC TELECOM, INC., Defendants/Intervenor in District Court

Subsequent History: Findings of fact/conclusions of law at, On remand at Teleglobe USA, Inc. v. BCE, Inc. (In re Teleglobe Communs. Corp.), 2008 Bankr. LEXIS 2129 (Bankr. D. Del., Aug. 7, 2008)

Prior History:  [1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. (D.C. Civil Action No. 04-cv-01266). Chief District Judge: Honorable Sue L. Robinson.

Teleglobe Communs. Corp. v. BCE, Inc. (In re Teleglobe Communs. Corp.), 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48367 (D. Del., June 2, 2006)