ordered to turn over documents
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
A federal appellate panel ruled this week that Qwest
Communications must turn over 220,000 pages of documents in
connection with a civil securities fraud case - documents
that could shed additional light on misdeeds during Joe
Nacchio's regime. Qwest maintained the documents were
protected by attorney-client and work-product privilege.
The three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that Qwest waived its
privilege when it turned over the documents to the
Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department.
Kathleen Walsh, spokeswoman for Lerach Coughlin, the lead
attorney in the shareholders class-action securities fraud
lawsuit against the Denver telco, said the lawyers are
pleased with the decision.
"The ruling will allow us to have access to certain
documents that Qwest provided to the SEC during its
investigation that were not produced to plaintiffs in this
Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs declined comment on the pending
litigation. The company could ask for a further court
Shareholders represented by Lerach already have reached a
$450 million class-action settlement with Qwest, but they
have pending claims against Nacchio, Qwest's former chief
executive, and Robert Wood-ruff, former chief financial
Curtis Kennedy, an attorney for the Association of U S West
Retirees, said the documents also may benefit investor
groups that opted to pursue their fraud lawsuits rather than
join the proposed class-action settlement.
"It may be that much of the 220,000 pages that Qwest now has
to turn over will prove particularly damaging to either the
company or Joseph Nacchio," Kennedy wrote in an e-mail to
officials of the retirees' group. "Certainly, this
information to be gleaned from the 220,000 pages will help
the plaintiffs' attorneys put more puzzle pieces together."
Kennedy said the documents also could provide a basis for
challenging Qwest's decision to withhold another 390,000
pages from federal agencies and litigants.