In this patent infringement action, AT&T filed a motion to compel certain litigation-funding discovery from the plaintiff, United Access Technologies, LLC (“UAT”). The district court reviewed documents relating to or from third parties regarding potential investments by those third parties in UAT’s lawsuits and communications to and from third parties relating to “quarterly updates” about UAT’s current lawsuits. In its motion, AT&T contended the information was not privileged and should be produced. UAT responded that the litigation funding was irrelevant and was protected by the work-product doctrine.
To analyze the issue, the district court explained that “[d]iscoverability of litigation funding materials under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 is a contested issue on which there is no binding precedent in the Third Circuit. See In re Valsartan N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) Contam. Prod. Liab. Lit., 405 F. Supp. 3d 612, 615 (D.N.J. 2019) (collecting cases and agreeing “with the plethora of authority that holds that discovery directed to a plaintiff’s litigation funding is irrelevant”). Generally, when confronted with this sort of dispute, close consideration of the subject matter in the disputed documents (e.g., through in camera review) is a prudent approach. See, e.g., ART+COM Innovationpool GmbH v. Google, Inc., C.A. 14-217 D.I. 196 (D. Del. Sept. 11, 2015) (finding, after in camera review, agreements with plaintiff’s litigation financiers were irrelevant).” Continue reading