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Delaware Joins Trend of Eroding Attorney-Client Privilege Protection of Investigation Materials

Aug.13.2014

In a decision with potentially far-reaching ramifications for companies conducting internal investigations, the Delaware Supreme Court in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Indiana Elec. Workers Pension Trust Fund IBEW (July 23, 2014) ordered Wal-Mart to hand over attorney-client privileged documents describing how it set up its investigation into Mexican bribery allegations. The Delaware Supreme Court held that, under the Garner exception, which allows stockholders to invade a corporation’s attorney-client privilege to prove a fiduciary breach by those in control of the corporation upon showing of good cause, Wal-Mart was required to comply with the stockholders’ request for information relating to the investigation, the potential of a cover-up, and the reports provided to the board of directors.

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