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COA affirms confidentiality of deposition in litigation between Greek brothers

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Discovery materials protected in Indiana courts under a protective order cannot be used in litigation between two brothers in Greece, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday.

Constantinos and Theodore Angelopoulos are brothers and Greek citizens who live in Greece. Their father, Panayiotis Angelopoulos, founded several companies that owned the assets of the brothers’ combined business activities before his death in 2001.

After their father’s death, the brothers were each entitled to three-eighths of his estate. Constantinos Angelopoulos believed one of his father’s companies, Beta Steel, which has its main facility in Portage, Indiana, belonged in the estate, thus entitling him to three-eighths of that company. However, Greek courts founds Panayiotis Angelopoulos had, inter vivos, transferred ownership of Beta Steel to Theodore Angelopoulos.

Constantinos Angelopoulos filed a claim in Porter Superior Court in 2008, against asserting he had a right to three-eighths of the company under Greek inheritance laws. During discovery, the parties entered into a protective order which provided that the parties could designate certain documents that included trade secrets as confidential and that such documents could only be used “solely for the purposes of this action.”

After the Porter Superior Court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, Constantinos Angelopoulos appealed, but the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in a previous ruling. The appellate court held that the rulings in Greek courts found that Theodore Angelopoulos was the sole owner of Beta Steel, and on the grounds of res judicata and comity, the matter could not be relitigated in Indiana.

However, the appellate court also reversed the trial court’s order regarding public access to Theodore Angelopoulos’ depositions, which had earlier been designated as confidential in part. The matter was remanded with instructions for Theodore Angelopoulos to prove by clear and convincing evidence that portions of his deposition should not be open to public access under Administrative Rule 9.

On remand, Constantinos Angelopoulos filed a motion to modify the protective order, seeking permission to use discovery materials that had been designated as confidential in pending or future action between he and his brother in Greece. Meanwhile, Theodore Angelopoulos presented evidence to the court that revealing the details of his sale of Beta Steel would increase threats against his family.

In a February 2016 order, the Porter Superior Court denied Constantinos Angelopoulos’ motion to modify the protective order while finding that his brother had adequately proven portions of his deposition should remain confidential.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in a Wednesday opinion, with Judge Paul Mathias writing that based on the evidence Theodore Angelopoulos presented, “the trial court could reasonably conclude that Theodore had met his burden of showing that the release of his deposition testimony would create a significant risk of substantial harm to Theodore and his family.”

Further, Mathias wrote that Constantinos Angelopoulos’ motion to modify the protective order showed he “merely desires to use Indiana’s generous discovery process to discover information that would apparently not be permitted in Greece and be allowed to use these materials in Greece.”

“Unless and until a Greek court decides that such materials would be admissible in the proceedings before the Greek court, a decision to which our courts would afford comity, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion by declining Constantinos’ request to modify the protective order,” Mathias wrote.

The case is Constantinos P. Angelopoulos v. Theodore P. Angelopoulos, Neptunia, Inc., Transmar Corp., Didiac Establishment, Beta Steel Corp., and Top Gun Investment Corp. II, 64A03-1603-PL-518.
 

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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