Pan American Life Insurance Company v. Louisiana Acquisitions Corp. et al
ORDER denying 316 MOTION for APPEAL OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE DECISION to District Court. Signed by Judge Jay C. Zainey on 2/22/2017. (ajn)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
PAN AMERICAN LIFE INSURANCE
LOUISIANA ACQUISITIONS CORP.,
SECTION: "A" (3)
Before the Court is an Appeal of Magistrate’s Order (Rec. Doc. 316) filed by
plaintiff Pan American Life Insurance Co. ("PALIC").
PALIC challenges the magistrate judge=s December 9, 2016 order pertaining to a
motion for sanctions (Rec. Doc. 245) filed by Defendants about one year ago on
February 16, 2016. (Rec. Doc. 315). In that ruling, which was the fourth ruling
addressing claims of privilege by PALIC as to inter alia communications with the Fowler
Rodriguez law firm during the time period when Fowler Rodriguez (FR) represented
both PANACON and PALIC, the magistrate judge found that FR had inappropriately
withheld documents by relying on the attorney client privilege. (Rec. Doc. 315 at 1). The
magistrate judge reached this conclusion after spending nearly nine months reviewing
the withheld documents in camera. (Rec. Doc. 271). The magistrate judge declined to
sanction PALIC as of the time of the ruling but reiterated the parameters that govern the
materials that are subject to production. (Rec. Doc. 315 at 1-2). The magistrate judge
then instructed PALIC to comply with its obligations under the federal rules or face
sanctions in the future. (Id. at 2).
The question before the Court is whether the ruling was clearly erroneous or
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contrary to law. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. ' 636(b)(1)(A). PALIC argues that it
has been ordered to produce documents that are protected by the attorney client
privilege. The Court disagrees. Implicit in the magistrate judge’s ruling is the conclusion
that any privilege was either destroyed or never came to fruition in light of FR’s joint
representation of both PANACON and PALIC, particularly in the timeframe when the
relationship between the partners became adverse as the sale of the hotel approached.
The magistrate judge did not reach his conclusions in a vacuum; he reached them after
spending months reviewing the documents at issue.
PALIC also asserts that it had no choice but to file the instant appeal because the
magistrate judge did not identify each specific page of the four large binders of
documents submitted for in camera review that were not privileged, and therefore
subject to production. PALIC complains that it may be subject to monetary sanctions at
a later date if it continues to withhold as privileged any documents that the magistrate
judge ultimately concludes should have been produced. The Court agrees with the
magistrate judge’s observation that further judicial resources need not be expended to
allay PALIC’s concerns in this vein.
Accordingly, and for the foregoing reasons;
IT IS ORDERED that the Appeal of Magistrate’s Order (Rec. Doc. 316) filed by
plaintiff Pan American Life Insurance Co. is DENIED.
February 22, 2017
JAY C. ZAINEY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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