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Cranston Police Retirees Action Committee v. City of Cranston

Superior Court of Rhode Island

July 14, 2015

CRANSTON POLICE RETIREES ACTION COMMITTEE
v.
CITY OF CRANSTON, ET AL.

Kent County Superior Court Taft-Carter, J.

For Plaintiff: Patrick J. Sullivan, Esq. Marisa A. Desautel, Esq.

For Defendant: William M. Dolan, Esq.

DECISION

TAFT-CARTER, J.

Before the Court is the Plaintiff's, the Cranston Police Retirees Action Committee, Motion to Quash a Notice of Deposition of an attorney of record or, in the alternative, for a Protective Order, and the Defendant's objection.

I

Facts and Travel

The instant Motion arises out of litigation brought by the Plaintiff, the Cranston Police Retirees Action Committee (the Committee), against the Defendant, the City of Cranston (the City), alleging that the City has breached certain contracts which the City negotiated with the City's Police Union, Local 301 of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (the Union).

Over the course of discovery, the City took the deposition of Glenn Gilkenson, the Committee's Super. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) witness.[1] During that deposition, Mr. Gilkenson was questioned concerning the factual bases for allegations made in the Complaint. Specifically, the deponent was questioned about the contracts which were negotiated between the City and the Union. Mr. Gilkenson testified that the factual assertions made in the Complaint were based on the investigation done by the Committee's attorney, Patrick J. Sullivan. He stated that Mr. Sullivan, as the attorney of record, was in charge of filing the Complaint. Mr. Gilkenson also stated that his belief was that the benefits set forth in the contracts were lifetime benefits and that this understanding was based on representations made to him by members of the Union, including its former president, Mr. Sullivan.

Immediately after this deposition, the City filed a Notice of Deposition seeking to depose Mr. Sullivan in his capacity as the former president of the Union. As president of the Union, Mr. Sullivan was involved in the contract negotiations between the Union and the City. In fact, Mr. Sullivan signed the contracts that are at issue in this case.

The Committee objected to the Notice of Deposition and, after the parties failed to resolve the dispute, filed the instant Motion to quash the notice of deposition pursuant to Rule 45 of the R.I. Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure. The Committee argues that the Notice of Deposition is an unjustifiable attempt to obtain Mr. Sullivan's work product and attorney-client communications as an attorney of record in the case. In addition, the Committee argues that Attorney Sullivan should not be deposed "merely because he signed the complaint." The City, in contrast, argues that it has taken depositions of other members of the Committee and of the Committee itself through the Super. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) deposition and that the depositions establish that Mr. Sullivan was the individual responsible for negotiating key documents on behalf of the Union members and that he was the source for many of the factual allegations made in the Complaint. As such, the City contends that Mr. Sullivan is a material fact witness to this litigation and that the Committee may not immunize him from discovery by retaining him as an attorney of record in this case.

The Court heard oral argument on June 23, 2015 and now issues its Decision.

II

Standard of Review


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