Judge nixes Roc Nation subpoena in Centene shareholder suit
DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge presiding over a shareholder lawsuit against a managed care company with prison health care contracts around the country has quashed subpoenas issued against rapper Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the law firm that has represented him for many years.
Attorneys for Centene Corp. argued Thursday that the subpoenas were necessary because they believe that the shareholder suing for access to the company’s books and records is improperly acting as surrogate for Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which is backing a federal lawsuit over prison conditions in Mississippi that names Centene subsidiary Centurion as a defendant.
They noted that an attorney for the same law firm representing the shareholder in Delaware sent a letter to Mississippi officials in January on behalf of Roc Nation stating that it was “prepared to pursue all potential avenues” to obtain relief for the Mississippi inmates.
“I think this was brought in order to put pressure on the company and to gain the attention of top management of the company to either settle or concede the case in Mississippi,” Centene attorney Paul Lockwood said of the shareholder suit.
“We’re trying to show that Roc Nation is actually the force behind this case, and, if they’re not, then the subpoena shouldn’t be burdensome at all,” he added.
While ruling that the shareholder must provide Centene with certain information she may have in advance of a September trial, Vice Chancellor Paul Fioravanti quashed the subpoenas against Roc Nation and the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
“The defendant has not persuaded me that this discovery is appropriate in a books and records action, or that there is precedent for it,” Fioravanti said.
Fioravanti ruled that Centene would be allowed to inquire about the shareholder’s true purpose for seeking company records, but that it was not entitled to all the documents it sought. The types of information he ordered the plaintiff to produce include communications with other Centene shareholders, communications with media and social media outlets, documents referring to communications with Roc Nation and its employees, and documents concerning arrangements with Roc Nation or other third parties regarding the payment of fees and expenses.
Attorneys for the shareholder argued that no one involved in the Delaware lawsuit is involved in the Mississippi class action, and that there is no evidence that the shareholder is seeking Centene records for an improper purpose.
“What matters is what the plaintiff wants out of this and why she is doing this,” said Dan Silver, an attorney for the shareholder.
The shareholder said in her complaint that she is seeking answers to “basic questions about grave injustices perpetrated behind prison walls.”
The complaint alleges that Centurion, which is the prison medical contractor in Delaware and several other states, has a long history of providing inadequate care to inmates around the country. Centene’s failure to address the problems risks jeopardizing Centurion’s business and could lead to more lawsuits and government investigations, which would expose stockholders to losses on their investments, the complaint adds.