Drummond Company is seeking an interlocutory appeal of certain issues in a $75-million fraud lawsuit from its former vice president David Roberson -- and it also asks for a stay of discovery, which only began recently after a delay of roughly 14 months.
Is this a stalling tactic to delay discovery that Roberson's attorney, Burt Newsome, launched on November 2? It's hard to say, but Drummond is asking the trial court to certify three questions for interlocutory appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court. All of the questions involve counts in the Roberson complaint where Circuit Judge Tamara Harris Johnson denied dismissal, stating that the statute of limitations (SOL) period prescribed by the Alabama Legal Services Liability Act (ALSLA) did not apply. Johnson granted dismissal on SOL grounds for codefendant Balch Bingham, and Drummond essentially is asking for identical treatment for its motion to dismiss.
Drummond's motion revolves around allegations that Blake Andrews, the company's general counsel, knew a scheme to overcome U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cleanup regulations at a Superfund site. in North Birmingham was illegal -- and asked Roberson to process related invoices, leading to the latter's indictment and conviction at a federal criminal trial.
Here are the three questions for which Drummond seeks certification:
(1.) Where a legal services provider (Balch) is alleged to have devised an illegal "plan' on behalf of its client (Drummond) and represented to the plaintiff (an employee of the client) that the plan was legal, and for that reason, the plaintiff followed the employer's instructions in paying the legal services provider's invoices, can claims against the legal services provider premised on the plan be barred by the ALSLA statute of limitations while substantively identical claims against the client are not?
(2) Whether a corporation, which is not itself a legal services provider, may avail itself of the ALSLA statute of limitations where its alleged liability is based on the conduct of its general counsel, who is a legal services provider?
(3.) Whether alleged misrepresentations by a lawyer that led a plaintiff to believe his conduct was legal are "legal services" under the ALSLA?
The full Drummond motion is embedded below: