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Home / Opinion Digests / Civil Practice / Civil Practice – Missouri Litigation – N.C. Subpoena – Non-Party Objection – Attorney-Client Privilege

Civil Practice – Missouri Litigation – N.C. Subpoena – Non-Party Objection – Attorney-Client Privilege

Ordinarily, when a North Carolina resident, who is a non-party to out-of-state litigation, receives a subpoena under the North Carolina Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act, the non-party’s objections to the subpoena will be heard by the North Carolina court in which discovery is sought. However, the non-party here is a law firm, and its objections are based on the attorney-client privilege. The attorney-client privilege belongs to the client – a party in the underlying Missouri litigation.

Discovery objections based on the client’s privilege – even where purportedly invoked only in the name of the attorney – are necessarily disputes between the parties to the action and must therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the court where the underlying foreign suit is pending. Accordingly, pursuant to G.S. § 1F-6, the Missouri court, not the trial court in North Carolina, had subject matter jurisdiction over the law firm’s objection, notwithstanding the fact that the law firm objected only in its own name.

We vacate the trial court’s order (sustaining in part and overruling in part the law firm’s objections). We dismiss the case.

Wright Construction Services, Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-253-22, 11 pp.) (Hunter Murphy, J.) Appealed from Mecklenburg County Superior Court (Donnie Hoover, J.) Joshua Durham, Jason James and Alan Ruley for plaintiff; Mark Sigmon, Steven Meckler and Daniel Hansen for defendants. 2022-NCCOA-914

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