Law School Case Brief
Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. W.R. Grace & Co. - No. 84 C 5031, 1987 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5062 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 11, 1987)
In the context of a motion to compel production of documents in a civil action in a federal court, The attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine are not blanket defenses to discovery. They can be asserted to prevent production of specific documents. However, the assertion of the privilege should be made to specific identified documents so that counsel or a court can make a determination of the applicability of the privilege.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) filed suit against a company and others, alleging that they defrauded a bank by failing to disclose certain material matters affecting a production payment loan. The defendants moved to compel production from the FDIC of certain verbal assurances documents as well as documents relating to an investigation of a senior vice president. The FDIC objected to producing those documents based on Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 17, § 360,. Upon consideration, the court allowed the motion.
Should the documents be produced?
The court ordered the FDIC to comply with defendants' production request for certain verbal assurances documents. Because the FDIC's only objection to producing the verbal assurances documents was based on Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 17, § 360, the court ordered the FDIC to produce the documents after notifying its customers by mailing them a copy of the court's order. As to the investigation documents, the court noted that the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine were not blanket defenses to discovery. As to the FDIC's objection based on Fed. R. Evid. 608(b), the court held that because the investigation documents could be relevant with regard to the senior vice president's personal lending practices and credibility, they should have been produced. Additionally, the court held that it could not rule on the FDIC's objection based on Fed. R. Evid. 403 until after a determination of what was discovered. Finally, the court held that impeachment was a permissible purpose for discovery if the information sought went to the credibility of a key witness to a major factual issue.
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