AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Qwest 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 case."

Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs declined comment on the pending litigation.  The company could ask for a further court review.

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 officer.

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.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/other_business/article/0,2777,DRMN_23916_4789923,00.html