Buckley, LLC v. Series 1 of Oxford Ins. Co., 219A21

Docket Nº219A21
Citation2022 NCSC 94
Case DateAugust 19, 2022
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Carolina



No. 219A21

Supreme Court of North Carolina

August 19, 2022

Heard in the Supreme Court on 9 May 2022.

Appeal pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 7A-27(a)(3) from an order and opinion granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's and defendant's motions to compel entered on 9 November 2020 by Judge Louis A. Bledsoe III, Chief Business Court Judge, in Superior Court, Mecklenburg County, after the case was designated a mandatory complex business case by the Chief Justice pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 7A-45.4(b).

McGuire Woods LLP, by Mark W. Kinghorn for plaintiff-appellant.

Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP, by James P. Cooney III and G. Michael Barnhill, for defendant-appellee.

Patterson Harkavy LLP, by Paul E. Smith and Narendra K. Ghosh, and Winslow Wetsch, PLLC, by Laura J. Wetsch, for NC Advocates for Justice, amicus curiae.

Alston & Bird LLP, by Brian D. Boone for Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America and Association of Corporate Counsel, amicus curiae.



¶ 1 The order and opinion entered on 9 November 2020, from which this interlocutory appeal is taken, is affirmed per curiam.

¶ 2 Under North Carolina law, to avail itself of attorney-client privilege, a party seeking to shield a portion of a communication from disclosure must show, inter alia, "the communication was made in the course of giving or seeking legal advice for a proper purpose although litigation need not be contemplated." In re Miller, 357 N.C. 316, 335 (2003) (quoting State v. McIntosh, 336 N.C. 517, 524 (1994)). "If [this] element[] is not present in any portion of an attorney-client communication, that portion of the communication is not privileged." Id.

¶ 3 This Court recently affirmed a Business Court opinion stating that "[b]usiness advice, such as financial advice or discussion concerning business negotiations, is not privileged." Window World of Baton Rouge, LLC v. Window World, Inc., 2019 NCBC 53, 2019 WL 3995941, at *25 (N.C. Super. Aug. 16, 2019), aff'd per curiam, 377 N.C. 551, 2021-NCSC-70, ¶ 1 (quoting N.C. Elec. Membership Corp. v. Carolina Power &Light Co., 110 F.R.D. 511, 517 (M.D. N.C. 1986)). In Window World, the trial court further stated that "North Carolina courts apply the protection of the attorney-client privilege to in-house counsel in the same way that it is applied to other attorneys." 2019 WL 3995941, at *25. In today's business...

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