It’s “a huge win” for shareholders suing Bank of America over the Merrill Lynch merger.
The documents Bank of America turned over to Congress, the SEC and other governmental entities, most likely including those formerly protected by the attorney-client privilege, will soon be turned over to lawyers representing shareholders, a Manhattan federal judge ruled yesterday.
American Lawyer has full coverage here.
Am Law calls this a “huge win” for the plaintiffs because they had asked the judge to take the unusual step of lifting the statutory stay on discovery while motions to dismiss are pending in this type of securities action. Plaintiffs had argued that halting discovery was an undue prejudice in this case because the other pending investigations placed the shareholders at a disadvantage — some of the defendants have finite resources, they said.
The order, signed by Judge Denny Chin, does not carve out an exception for privileged materials, so all documents turned over are presumably in play.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff previously signed a protective order that stated that BofA was waiving its privilege “regarding other information that may be of interest in related private lawsuits,” Am Law notes, which could be read to mean no privilege has been waived on documents that were outside the requests made by the governmental entities.
Judge Chin ruled that Bank of America would not be prejudiced in having to produce documents in the private litigation because they have already gathered the documents for production in the other cases.
Attorneys at Wachtell had argued strenuously that the stay should not be lifted.
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