United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL AND
DENYING MOTIONS TO QUASH
A. SANDERS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is Defendants' Motion to Compel , which
seeks the compelled production of Plaintiff's business
and financial records in response to their Second Set of
Request[s] for Production of Documents. As to each request at
No. 23 seeks a “Matters Opened Summary
Report” for Langston & Lott, P.A. from 2010 to
present, displaying client name, matter name/description,
file number, name of responsible/assigned lawyer, and date
each file was opened.
No. 24 seeks a “Closed Files Report” for
Langston & Lott, P.A. from 2010 to present, displaying
client name, matter name/description, file number, name of
the responsible/assigned attorney, file open date, and date
each file was closed/inactivated/archived.
parties make the same arguments regarding Requests 23 and 24,
and the Court likewise applies the same analysis.
objected on the grounds of relevancy and to the production of
any documents past the cutoff of benefits in May 2017.
However, in his response to the motion to compel, Plaintiff
only raised the issue of relevance. Nevertheless, Plaintiff
represents he “provided the information to satisfy the
Request.” As to the relevance issue-which is
Plaintiff's primary objection to the bulk of the requests
at issue as well as multiple motions to quash which will also
be addressed in this order-the parties dispute whether
Plaintiff's profession was that of an attorney or a
specialized trial attorney. Plaintiff's occupational
disability policy hinges on whether he can perform the
“substantial and material” aspects of his
profession. If Plaintiff's profession is “trial
attorney, ” he contends any continuing work as a
general practice attorney is irrelevant. However, Defendants
assert Plaintiff was a general practice attorney who has
continued to perform those duties. Thus, this case revolves
around a determination of Plaintiff's regular occupation,
the substantial and material duties of said occupation, and
which of those duties, if any, Plaintiff became unable to
perform as a result of his claimed disability (and if found
to be partially disabled, whether he experienced a qualifying
loss of income). See House v. Am. United Life Ins.
Co., 499 F.3d 443, 453-55 (5th Cir. 2007).
Court therefore finds that information relating to
Plaintiff's occupational duties without limitation to
work as a “trial attorney”-before, during, and
after cessation of benefits- is relevant and discoverable. As
to Plaintiff's objection that the request is not limited
to Plaintiff but to the firm as a whole, Plaintiff owns a
fifty-percent interest in the firm, and the policy at issue
grants to Defendants the right to “examine [his]
business and personal financial records . . . as often as
[they] reasonably require to determine [his]
[e]arnings.” The Court notes that Plaintiff represents
he provided the information requested in spite of his
objections. If Plaintiff discovers additional responsive
documents, he is hereby ordered to supplement.
No. 25 seeks a report for Langston & Lott, P.A.
displaying in chronological order all matters/cases/files for
which Duncan Lott was designated as the Client Intro Lawyer,
Fee Credit Lawyer, Responsible Lawyer, and/or Assigned Lawyer
which were opened from 2008 to present, and including the
date opened, description, and close date, if any.
only distinguishing feature of this request is that it is
limited to Plaintiff. The parties otherwise employ
essentially the same arguments, and the Court's analysis
equally applies. Plaintiff's objections are overruled.
No. 26 seeks a Collection Summary Report from 2010
to present providing a chronological monthly/yearly analysis
of payments received by Langston & Lott, P.A. displaying
date of collection, fee/payment amount, name of fee credited
lawyer, name of responsible lawyer (if different), client
name, and matter number.
again objects based on relevancy and breadth, which the Court
overrules for the reasons already discussed. However, as to
this request, Plaintiff also asserts that the requested
information is privileged. The entirety of his privilege
argument is that “the information is confidential and
privileged” and “invades the province of the
attorney-client privilege in seeking confidential information
involving client files.” “The identity of a
client is not normally within the attorney-client privilege,
nor are matters involving the receipt of fees from a client
usually privileged.” Auto Parts Mfg. Miss. Inc. v.
King Constr. of Houston, LLC, 2017 WL 1233901 at *2
(N.D. Miss. Apr. 3, 2017) (citing In re Grand Jury
Proceedings, 517 F.2d 666, 670-71 (5th Cir. 1975)). A
client's motive for retaining an attorney is privileged,
as are “invoices revealing the nature of the services
provided, including the areas of legal research and
strategy.” Id. The Court finds that Request 26
seeks only client identity and fee information.
Plaintiff's objections as to privilege are overruled.
No. 28 seeks a Purchases Journal Report/Payment
Listing Report for the categories of Expenses named
“Consulting Fees” and “Advertising
Fees” providing an itemized breakdown of the total
amount of each category for each year from 2010 to present
displaying vendor/payee name, invoice date, matter number,
payment amount and date, and explanation.
again argues the requested documents are irrelevant because
whether he continued to work as an attorney has no bearing on
whether he continued to work as a trial attorney. However, as
already discussed, Plaintiff's profession at the time of
his claimed disability is at issue as is the impact, if any,
of that disability. For the reasons already discussed,
Plaintiff's objections are overruled.
No. 30 seeks copies of agreements between Langston
& Lott, P.A., with Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, Stephen S.
Kreller, and/or the Kreller Law Firm regarding or pertaining
in any way to the handling of or representation of
claimants/plaintiffs in ...