Texas court denies motion to compel discovery of relator’s disclosure statement

by Ben Vernia | August 4th, 2015

On July 31, U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant denied a qui tam defendant’s motion to compel a relator to produce a copy of the disclosure statement he filed with the United States. The case, in which the government declined to intervene, involved allegations that a mortgage company failed to provide Truth in Lending Act and Regulation Z disclosures in mortgage modification applications.

Judge Mazzant reasoned:

The Court finds that the disclosure statements submitted to the Government by Relators pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(2) constitute at least ordinary work product for the purposes of the work product doctrine. Public policy favors the full and frank communication between Relators and the Government concerning the prosecution of the case, and as such, the communications must be protected from disclosure. Therefore, protection was not waived when Relators disclosed the information to the Government as the common-interest doctrine applies.

Additionally, the Court finds that Homeward has not established both a substantial need for the documents and an undue hardship in obtaining the documents by other means. Homeward argues that it has a substantial need for the disclosure statements so that it can conduct its discovery in the present case. (Dkt. #131 at p. 6). Homeward also asserts that forcing it “to compile information through interrogatories, document requests, and depositions would place an undue burden on [it].” (Dkt. #131 at p. 7).

The Court does not find Homeward’s argument to be persuasive.2 Relators assert that they have produced to Homeward all the factual documents accompanying the disclosure statements, as well as the identity of any persons named within the disclosure statements (Dkt. #136 at p. 7). Additionally, Homeward has deposed Relators and had the opportunity to question them regarding the information contained within their allegations and their investigative efforts (Dkt. #136 at p. 7). Therefore, the Court finds that Homeward has not made the requisite showing needed to compel the production of the documents protected under the work product doctrine. Homeward’s motion to compel will be denied as to the production of the disclosure statements.

(Footnote omitted.)

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