Saturday, April 13, 2013

Upjohn Co. v. United States case brief

Upjohn Co. v. United States case brief summary
449 U.S. 383 (1981)

The court granted certiorari on a judgment from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which held that the attorney-client privilege did not apply to communications made by petitioner corporation's mid-level and lower-level officers and agents, and that the work-product doctrine did not apply to the administrative tax summonses issued under 26 U.S.C.S. § 7602.

-Responding to a claim that its foreign subsidiary made illegal payments to secure a government business, petitioner corporation initiated an investigation and sent out a questionnaire to all of its foreign general and area managers to determine the nature and magnitude of such payments.
-After petitioner disclosed such payments to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service demanded a production of all the files relating to the investigation. Petitioner refused to produce the documents.

-The court rejected the "control group" test applied by the lower appellate court, concluding that even low-level and mid-level employees could have the information necessary to defend against the potential litigation, and that Fed. R. Evid. 501 protected any client information that aided the orderly administration of justice.

-The court rejected the lower appellate court's conclusion that the work-product doctrine did not apply to tax summonses, but remanded the issue because the work-product at issue was based on potentially privileged oral statements.
-The doctrine could only be overcome upon a strong showing of necessity for disclosure, and unavailability by other means.

OUTCOME: The judgment was reversed because petitioner's low- and mid-level employees' information was protected by the attorney-client privilege where it was necessary to defend against potential litigation, and the work-product doctrine applied to tax summonses. The court remanded the case for a determination as to whether the work-product doctrine applied, and to allow respondent to show a necessity for the disclosure.

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