The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled Tuesday that former Michigan governor Rick Snyder cannot avoid deposition in civil lawsuits pertaining to the Flint water scandal.
Snyder and former Michigan State Treasurer Andy Dillon claimed that they could not be deposed as non-party fact witnesses in Flint water crisis claims against other defendants. They claimed that qualified immunity protected them from discovery until their immunity claims were conclusively denied.
However, the appeals court said that qualified immunity only protects government officials from “unnecessary and burdensome discovery or trial proceedings.” The court stated its decision still left both Snyder and Dillon with remedies, as they could object to lines of questioning and move for a protective order at the district court level.
As the court said,
It is inappropriate for us, however, to issue a prophylactic order to stop these depositions from going forward based on hypothetical horrors before a single problematic question has been asked. They may file for a protective order in the district court if they object to the noticing parties’ line of questioning. What they cannot do is ask us to resolve a run-of-the-mill discovery dispute on an interlocutory appeal.