Meyers, Harrison & Pia LLC v. Riella
A litigation privilege can shield defendants from legal responsibility for false, extreme and outrageous statements made in the course of litigation. In a dissolution of marriage, the parties hired accounting and business valuation firms to prepare valuation reports. Allegedly, Riella & Lepak criticized the valuation that Meyers, Harrison & Pia LLC provided and alleged that Meyers, Harrison failed to properly follow valuation principles. The husband, who had hired Riella & Lepak, allegedly sued Meyers, Harrison and alleged that it engaged in fraud and violated CUTPA, the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Meyers, Harrison proceeded to sue Riella & Lepak and alleged defamation and violation of CUTPA. Riella & Lepak moved to strike and argued that the litigation privilege shields Riella & Lepak for statements made in the course of litigation. "[C]ommunications uttered or published in the course of judicial proceedings are absolutely privileged [as] long as they are in some way pertinent to the subject of the controversy," pursuant to Gallo v. Barile, a 2007 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Absolute privilege extends to documents prepared in connection with a judicial proceeding. "False, extreme or outrageous representations," wrote the Superior Court, "are nevertheless privileged if they are uttered or published in the course of judicial proceedings." The litigation privilege acts to protect the defendants’ preparation of reports for use in judicial proceedings, and the court granted the defendants’ motion to strike.