MOHAWK INDUSTRIES v. CARPENTER

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
08-678
Petitioner 
Mohawk Industries, Inc.
Respondent 
Norman Carpenter
Advocates
(argued the cause for the petitioner)
(argued the cause for the respondent)
(Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the respondent)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

In 2006, Norman Carpenter, a Shift Supervisor at a Mohawk Industry manufacturing facility, was fired after violating Mohawk's Code of Ethics. He subsequently filed suit for wrongful termination in a Georgia federal district court. He argued that he was fired, not for violating company protocols, but for reporting immigration violations to Mohawk's human resources department. Mr. Carpenter stated that after filing his report, a Mohawk company attorney met with him and attempted to persuade him to recant. The report would have been detrimental to Mohawk as it was then involved in a class action lawsuit which charged the company with conspiring to hire illegal immigrants.

Before trial and as part of discovery, Mr. Carpenter requested information from Mohawk related to his meeting with its attorney. Mohawk contended that the information was protected by the attorney-client privilege. The federal district court ordered Mohawk to disclose the information, but permitted the company to appeal. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the order for discovery. It reasoned that while the Supreme Court's decision in Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp. provided an exception to the finality requirement necessary for an appellate court to have jurisdiction over appeals, the appeal of a discovery order involving attorney-client privilege did not qualify for exception.

Question 

Is an order for discovery involving attorney-client privilege eligible for immediate appeal under the Supreme Court's decision in Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp.?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Mohawk Industries, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

No. The Supreme Court held that disclosure orders that are adverse to the attorney-client privilege do not qualify for immediate appeal under the collateral order doctrine. With Justice Sonia Sotamayor writing for the majority and joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, John Paul Stevens, Antonin G. Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Samuel A. Alito, the Court reasoned that postjudgment appeals, "together with other review mechanisms," suffice to protect the rights of litigants.

Justice Clarence Thomas filed a separate opinion, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. He argued that the Eleventh Circuit should have been affirmed on the ground that any "avenue for immediate appeal" should be left to the "rulemaking process." Instead, the Court "subordinated what the appellate jurisdiction statute says to what the Court thinks is a good idea."

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MOHAWK INDUSTRIES v. CARPENTER. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 04 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_678>.
MOHAWK INDUSTRIES v. CARPENTER, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_678 (last visited April 4, 2014).
"MOHAWK INDUSTRIES v. CARPENTER," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 4, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_678.