Case of the Day: Glock v. Glock, Inc.

The case of the day is Glock v. Glock, Inc. (11th Cir. 2015). Helga Glock was the former wife of Gaston Glock, creator of the Glock 17 handgun. The Glocks were engaged in divorce litigation in Austria. In 2013, Helga brought an application under § 1782 seeking evidence from Glock, Inc., Glock Professional, Inc., and Consultinvest, Inc., for use in the divorce proceedings. The three entities did not challenge the application, and the parties entered into a protective order limiting the use of documents marked “confidential” to proceedings to which Helga is a party.

Helga later filed a RICO action against Gaston and the Glock companies from which she had received discovery. Still later, in 2014, she asked the court that had granted her § 1782 application to authorize her to disclose the documents she had obtained in discovery to her RICO attorney for use in the RICO action. The magistrate judge granted her motion, but the district judge rejected the magistrate’s conclusion. Helga appealed.

The case is reminiscent of In re POSCO, though it seems POSCO was decided too late to influence the decision. The court’s approach was entirely correct: “As a general rule, in United States litigation, to help prosecute or defend their lawsuits, parties may use any evidence they lawfully possess.” Here there was no evidence of an attempt to circumvent proof-gathering restrictions, which might be relevant in an Intel analysis if it existed. But more generally, the court suggested that if the target of the discovery did not want the applicant to use evidence gathered under § 1782 in US litigation, the onus is on the target to seek a protective order.

Here the Glock entities did seek a protective order, but the protective order didn’t prohibit Helga from using the evidence in US proceedings. Indeed, on its face, the order seems to expressly permit such a use. The court rejected the argument that the protective order implicitly forbade use in US litigation because it was entered in the context of a § 1782 application.

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