After Ga. Ruling, Defense Must Aim To Limit Exec Depositions
In an article published in Law360 on June 14, 2021, Partner Carol Michel and Associate Michael Weathington discuss a recent Georgia Court of Appeals opinion that clears a path for plaintiffs to depose company executives.
On May 6, the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld a trial court's decision to deny a motion for a protective order seeking to prevent the deposition of a General Motors executive in a wrongful death case over an alleged vehicle defect. "The Court declined to apply the "apex doctrine," a framework used by some courts to issue protective orders preventing the deposition of high-ranking corporate executives, on grounds that it is inconsistent with Georgia's discovery provisions and that creating an exception to the discovery rules for these executives is best left for the legislature," the authors explain.
The Court's opinion highlights concerns for defense attorneys when it comes to representing executives.
"Going forward, it will be easier for plaintiffs to depose high-level executives of corporations, as this precedent does not require courts to consider the apex factors," Michel and Weathington explain. "Defense attorneys need to be prepared to present evidence to support why the executive's testimony is irrelevant, and also why the deposition is unduly burdensome and unnecessary."
The authors continue that "defense attorneys should now caution corporate clients at the outset of litigation that there is a possibility that high-ranking executives will be deposed. Moreover, attorneys in similar scenarios should always lobby for specified terms and conditions for the deposition, if such deposition is approved by the court."
For the full article, click here.