By Gina Passarella
Of the Legal Staff
The Philadelphia Housing Authority has completed a review of legal bills from six law firms, concluding there was no privileged information contained in them regarding former executive director Carl Greene.
Drinker Biddle & Reath conducted the review on behalf of the PHA after Judge Anita Brody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (pictured, left) ruled in a case brought by Greene that the bills could be handed over to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development if they contained no privileged information specific to Greene.
In a status report filed Wednesday in the case, Greene v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, Drinker Biddle attorney Barry Gross asked that the judge allow the PHA to hand over to HUD all of the unredacted legal bills from Fox Rothschild, Duane Morris, Ballard Spahr, Wolf Block, Flaster Greenberg and Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. Those bills were requested in a subpoena issued by HUD as part of the department and its Office of Inspector General's investigation into whether $38 million in legal expenses paid by the PHA to outside counsel between 2007 and 2010 were appropriate.
Carl Greene sued the authority, its interim director Michael Kelly and sole board member Estelle Richman after Richman took over the board at HUD's direction and did an about-face, directing the agency to turn over unredacted bills. Previously, the PHA had said it would only hand over redacted bills.
Greene argued some of those bills covered legal expenses for him individually and that disclosing the details of those legal matters could waive privilege in any ongoing cases.
But the PHA and HUD argued Greene was only represented in his official capacity and the privilege does not extend to him individually. In the alternative, they argued Greene waived his privilege rights when he allowed the PHA to pay for those legal bills.
Greene agreed to a review of the bills and their disclosure if nothing pertained to his individual representation.
In his letter to Brody, Gross acknowledged not meeting her May 27 deadline for the review. He said some of the bills were in storage and others were at the law firms. He said he reviewed approximately 24,100 pages of legal invoices.
"Of the hundreds of thousands of unredacted legal billing entries reviewed, none reflected notes of meetings with counsel, legal analysis, or legal advice relating to Carl Greene, individually," Gross said. "DBR attorneys did not uncover a single instance in which a legal billing entry raised a question as to whether an attorney-client privilege existed as to Carl Greene."
Given those findings, Gross asked the court to order the production of the bills to HUD OIG.