Privilege Covers Investigation Originated–but Delegated–by In-House Lawyer

Need a few pointers on how to help secure privilege protection for internal investigations? Then take a quick look at Celanese Corporation’s 21818294 - investigationconduct when investigating a horrific on-the-job injury.

While a Texas trial court held that the attorney–client privilege did not apply to Celanese’s investigation materials, an appellate court granted a writ of mandamus and reversed.  In re: Fairway Methanol LLC and Celanese Ltd., 2017 WL 422006 (Tex. Ct. App. Jan. 31, 2017).  You may read the decision here.

Post-Injury Investigation

On Nov. 19, 2014, Jose Salazar, a Celanese-employed electrician in Pasadena, Texas, was injured when he tripped and fell into charged electrical equipment.  The next day, Nov. 20, Gary Rowen, a Celanese in-house lawyer, perceived a worker’s compensation or personal injury lawsuit and immediately created an investigative team to provide accident-related information to the Celanese legal department.

In subsequent litigation, Salazar requested “any and all incident, accident, or investigation reports” pertaining to his incident.  The trial court conducted an in camera review of the putatively privileged documents and overruled Celanese’s privilege objection.  You may read the trial court’s order here.

In-House Lawyer’s Affidavit Prevails More…