The Second Department determined the subpoona issued by the current owners of property subject to a foreclosure action (the Frankels) to the attorney (Satran) who represented the parties who initially took out the loan (the Confinos) should not have been quashed, the action for civil contempt against the attorney should not have been dismissed, and attorney-client privilege could only be asserted at a subsequent deposition:
“A party or nonparty moving to quash a subpoena has the initial burden of establishing either that the requested disclosure is utterly irrelevant to the action or that the futility of the process to uncover anything legitimate is inevitable or obvious'” … . ” Should the [movant] meet this burden, the subpoenaing party must then establish that the discovery sought is material and necessary to the prosecution or defense of [the] action'” … .
Here, Satran failed to meet his initial burden of demonstrating either that the requested disclosure was “utterly irrelevant” to the action or that the “futility of the process to uncover anything legitimate is inevitable or obvious” … . * * *
Additionally, the Supreme Court should have granted the Frankels’ motion to hold Satran in civil contempt for failure to comply with the subpoena by failing to appear for a deposition. “To prevail on a motion to hold another in civil contempt, the moving party must prove by clear and convincing evidence (1) that a lawful order of the court, clearly expressing an unequivocal mandate, was in effect, (2) that the order was disobeyed and the party disobeying the order had knowledge of its terms, and (3) that the movant was prejudiced by the offending conduct'” … . ” To satisfy the prejudice element, it is sufficient to allege and prove that the contemnor’s actions were calculated to or actually did defeat, impair, impede, or prejudice the rights or remedies of a party'” … .
Here, it was undisputed that Satran failed to comply with the subpoena by failing to appear for a deposition and that he had knowledge of the terms of the subpoena. Moreover, the Frankels demonstrated that Satran’s conduct prejudiced their right under CPLR 3101(a)(4) to obtain all information relevant and necessary to their defense of the present action and their cross claims against the Confinos … . Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v Confino, 2019 NY Slip Op 06114, Second Dept 8-7-19