MPA subpoenas Burnett testimony

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood lawyers want a judge to strike a subpoena seeking testimony from an attorney representing the Town in its legal battle against its former marketing firm.

On March 9, attorneys for MPA Strategies subpoenaed Shannon Burnett, an attorney with the Town. Blythewood attorneys promptly responded by filing a motion to quash the subpoena.

MPA sought to depose Burnett for testimony about “her role in receiving and reviewing the MPA Strategies contract, but not about the advise [sic] she gave the Town concerning the contract,” according to the motion.

MPA may also ask about “non-privileged aspects” of a FOIA request the firm previously filed, the motion states.

“The Subpoena and Notice of Deposition are improper and should be quashed, or, in the alternative, the Court should issue a protective order,” according to the Town’s motion.

MPA had not responded to the town’s motion as of press time, according to the Richland County Public Index.

In an email included in the Town’s filing, MPA attorney Paul Porter said the deposition would not delve into privileged matters.

“We will be asking about [Burnett’s] role in receiving and reviewing the MPA Strategies contract, but not about advice she gave the Town concerning the contract,” the email states. “[Attorney Ryan Hicks is] taking the deposition so I do not know his precise game plan, but it should be fairly short (we have 2 hours blocked off for it).”

The Town’s motion to quash is the latest skirmish in ongoing litigation between MPA and the Town. MPA filed suit in 2021, alleging non-compliance with the state Freedom of Information Act.

The Town countersued, listing several causes of action, including fraud, civil conspiracy, negligence/gross negligence, and another misconduct.

Blythewood’s latest motion lists several arguments in favor of quashing MPA’s subpoena.

Burnett is representing the Town in the suit, she was improperly served, and the subpoena is overly broad, according to the Town’s motion.

“Plaintiff cannot make the requisite showing to overcome the skepticism with which courts view attempts to depose an opposing party’s attorney,” court papers state.

The motion further asserts MPA’s legal counsel tried to serve Burnett when she was out of the country, leaving little time to respond. The subpoena set a deposition date of March 15

In addition, town attorneys state MPA tried to serve Burnett via email and certified mail, both improper methods of serving subpoenas.

“The Subpoena and Notice of Deposition do not allow reasonable time for compliance. Not only were they not properly served, but Ms. Burnett did not receive notice of the attempted service until the week of March 6, 2023, the week prior to the date identified in the Subpoena and Notice of Deposition for Ms. Burnett’s deposition,” the motion states.

In an affidavit accompanying the motion, Burnett formally objected to the subpoena.

“I object to the Subpoena as overbroad, overly burdensome, disproportionate to the needs of the case, and as seeking information subject to the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine,” the affidavit states.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]