ST. BERNARD PORT, HARBOR & TERMINAL DISTRICT
VIOLET DOCK PORT, INC., LLC ST. BERNARD PORT, HARBOR & TERMINAL DISTRICT
VIOLET DOCK PORT, INC., L.L.C.
FROM ST. BERNARD 34TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT NO. 116-860,
DIVISION "E" Honorable Jacques A. Sanborn, Judge
Exnicios LISKA EXNICIOS & NUNGESSER Randall A. Smith
SMITH & FAWER, L.L.C. Harry T. Lemmon THE LEMMON LAW FIRM
W. Scott Hastings LOCKE LORD, LLP COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT.
M. Garner Peter L. Hilbert, Jr. Joshua S. Force Ashley G.
Coker SHER GARNER CAHILL RICHTER KLEIN & HILBERT, L.L.C.
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE/RESPONDENT.
Monique M. Lafontaine MLaw - Monique Lafontaine, APLC COUNSEL
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano,
Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, Judge Regina Bartholomew Woods,
and Judge Tiffany G. Chase
CABRINA JENKINS, JUDGE
matter is a discovery dispute arising in an expropriation
action. Defendant/appellant Violet Dock Port, Inc., LLC
("Violet Dock") appeals the trial court's May
31, 2016 judgment, which partially granted a Motion to Compel
filed by appellee/plaintiff St. Bernard Port, Harbor &
Terminal District ("St. Bernard Port"), and ordered
the production of communications between Violet Dock and
non-parties Joseph P. Ruppel and Chaffe & Associates,
Inc. ("Chaffe") (collectively,
"Ruppel/Chaffe"). Violet Dock also appeals the
trial court's December 27, 2016 judgment granting St.
Bernard Port's Motion for Partial New Trial on its Motion
to Compel, and denying Ruppel/Chaffe's Motion for New
Trial. Violet Dock's appeal was consolidated with an
Application for Supervisory Writs filed by Ruppel/Chaffe,
which also seeks review of the trial court's May 31, 2016
and December 27, 2016 judgments, and requests attorney's
fees and costs. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the
trial court's May 31, 2016 and December 27, 2016
judgments, grant the writ application,  and remand with
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
the early 1980s, Violet Dock had owned and operated a 75-acre
private industrial port on the Mississippi River in St.
Bernard Parish (the "Property"). Until 2009, Mr.
Ruppel was a shareholder/member of Violet Dock. At that time,
Mr. Ruppel was nearing 90 years old, and he divested himself
of his minority interest in Violet Dock.
December 2010, St. Bernard Port filed a Petition for
Expropriation of the Property. Violet Dock challenged the
constitutionality of the taking and, in the alternative, the
amount that St. Bernard Port deposited as the purported fair
market value of the Property.
the 2013 just compensation trial, St. Bernard Port learned
that on September 15, 2009, Mr. Ruppel had sold his minority
interest in the Property (approximately 34%) to his child and
grandchildren. Several months before, Mr. Ruppel had retained
Chaffe, which provided investment banking and consulting
services, to value his membership interest in the Property
for tax and estate planning purposes. The report valuing Mr.
Ruppel's interest in the Property was issued by Chaffe on
May 31, 2009 (the "Chaffe Report").
middle of the just compensation trial, St. Bernard Port
issued subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum to Mr.
Ruppel and Chaffe, who were not parties to the expropriation.
St. Bernard Port specifically sought production of the Chaffe
Report. Ruppel/Chaffe objected, and filed
Motions to Quash, for Protective Order and for Costs,
contending that the Chaffe Report was privileged and
contained confidential information, and that St. Bernard Port
failed to meet its burden of proving both good cause and
relevance to justify the production of documents from
non-parties. St. Bernard Port responded with a Motion to
Compel. The trial court granted the Motion to Compel, denied
the Motions to Quash, and ordered Ruppel/Chaffe to produce
the Chaffe Report.
appealed the trial court's December 11, 2013 judgment
denying their Motions to Quash the subpoenas and subpoenas
duces tecum. On August 27, 2014, this court reversed
the trial court, finding that it had abused its discretion in
denying Ruppel/Chaffe's Motions to Quash. St. Bernard
Port, Harbor & Terminal Dist. v. Violet Dock, Inc.,
14-0286, p. 9 (La.App. 4 Cir. 8/27/14), 147 So.3d 1266, 1270.
Specifically, this court found that the discovery sought by
St. Bernard Port was not relevant to the issue of just
compensation and that St. Bernard Port had not established
good cause. After reversing the trial court's judgment,
this court stated:
Because the judgment appealed from is silent as to the issue
of costs, we are remanding this matter to the trial court for
consideration as to whether costs should be awarded to Mr.
Ruppel and Chaffe & Associates in light of our conclusion
that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the
non-party appellants' motions to quash.
trial court, Ruppel/Chaffe filed a Motion for Costs, seeking
attorney's fees and costs incurred in quashing the
subpoenas, pursuant to La. C.C.P. arts. 1426(B)
("Protective orders"), 1469(4) ("Motion for
order compelling discovery"), and 1420(D) ("Signing
of discovery requests, responses, or objections"), which
authorize an award of "reasonable expenses, . . .
including attorney's fees." In the Motion for Costs,
Ruppel/Chaffe requested more than $376, 000.00 in
attorney's fees and other expenses incurred by
Ruppel/Chaffe through July 31, 2015. In response, St. Bernard
Port propounded Interrogatories and Requests for Production
of Documents ("Discovery Requests") on
Ruppel/Chaffe, seeking: (1) all correspondence between Mr.
Ruppel and Violet Dock, including their attorneys, concerning
the subpoenas referenced in the Motion for Costs; and (2) all
correspondence between Chaffe and Violet Dock, including
their attorneys, concerning the subpoenas referenced in the
Motion for Costs. Ruppel/Chaffe objected to the Discovery
Requests on the grounds that they were vague, overbroad,
unduly burdensome, not reasonably calculated to lead to the
discovery of admissible evidence, and sought documents that
were irrelevant and were protected by the attorney-client,
common interest, and other related privileges.
Ruppel/Chaffe produced unredacted billing statements from its
attorneys documenting the time spent in quashing the
subpoenas issued in the expropriation trial. Ruppel/Chaffe
and St. Bernard Port also exchanged expert reports regarding
the reasonableness of the requested attorney's fees and
April 8, 2016, St. Bernard Port filed a Motion to Compel,
asserting that, in addition to the unredacted attorney
invoices, it was entitled to discover all of the underlying
documents described in the invoices. St. Bernard Port argued
that its requests for the underlying communications were
"aimed at determining whether all the costs asserted by
Ruppel/Chaffe in their motion [for costs] are related to work
regarding those efforts to quash the subpoenas." St.
Bernard Port insisted it "[could] not ascertain with
certainty whether the charges by Ruppel/Chaffe [were]
relevant to the subpoena[s] without the underlying
and Violet Dock filed an opposition to the Motion to Compel
and a Motion for a Protective Order, arguing that the
communications sought by St. Bernard Port were protected by
the attorney-client privilege, common-interest privilege, and
the work-product doctrine. They also argued that these
underlying documents were irrelevant and that the Discovery
Requests were unduly burdensome.
hearing, the trial court rendered a judgment on May 31, 2016,
partially granting the Motion to Compel as follows:
• Ruppel/Chaffe was ordered to produce all
communications sent to Violet Dock after the sale of Mr.
Ruppel's interest in the Property that specifically
pertained to the defense of the subpoenas issued to
• Neither Ruppel/Chaffe nor Violet Dock were required to
turn over any communications from Violet Dock to Mr. Ruppel
or Chaffe in connection with the issuance of the subpoenas.
7, 2016, St. Bernard Port filed a Motion for Partial New
Trial. St. Bernard Port challenged not only the trial
court's failure to require production of communications
from Violet Dock to Ruppel/Chaffe, but also asked the court
to order production of "[a]ll communications between
Violet Dock or its lawyers and Ruppel/Chaffe
or its lawyers" contained in the
billing entries submitted as part of Ruppel/Chaffe's
Motion for Costs. St. Bernard Port asserted that these
communications were relevant because it was entitled to
ensure that the work included in the billing invoices
pertained only to Ruppel/Chaffe's efforts to quash the
subpoenas issued in the expropriation trial.
10, 2016, Ruppel/Chaffe also filed a Motion for New Trial in
which it agreed to withdraw all claims for attorney's
fees and costs associated with the communications over which
Ruppel/Chaffe and Violet Dock had asserted a privilege.
According to Ruppel/Chaffe, this withdrawal would eliminate
any concerns that the trial court or St. Bernard Port might
have regarding the amount of time spent on the challenged
communications, as compared to other items identified in the
same time entry. St. Bernard Port opposed the Motion for New
Trial, arguing that Ruppel/Chaffe had not produced a complete
list of the "withdrawn" communications and that, in
any event, such a list could not be generated without St.
Bernard Port's review of these communications.
hearing, the trial court rendered a judgment on December 27,
2016 granting St. Bernard Port's Motion for Partial New