If handled correctly, in-house counsel may delegate an internal investigation to a non-legal department. The question arises whether the attorney–client privilege applies to investigation-related emails between non-attorney employees. These type of emails often appear business-related and far removed from the company’s legal department.
In Crabtree v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 2017 WL 4740662 (ND Ill. Oct. 20, 2017), the USDC for Illinois’ Northern District held that the corporate attorney–client privilege applies to emails between non-attorney employees so long as a lawyer has “some relationship to the communication” and the email would reveal the “substance of a confidential attorney–client communication.”
This case, available here, provides a short but good read on this tricky internal-investigation privilege issue.
In-House Counsel Delegates Internal Investigation
After receiving confidential information about one of its users, Experian’s in-house counsel asked its compliance division to conduct an internal investigation and report back to the legal department. The investigation included emails between non-attorney employees, and the plaintiff in a subsequent putative FCRA class action moved to compel these communications. More…
An interesting privilege issue arose in the State of Washington—whether a plaintiff–insured may obtain her uninsured motorist carrier’s (UIM) post-litigation file in a bad-faith case.
Distinguishing between a general insurer’s claims file—which is discoverable—and a UIM file, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that the attorney–client privilege and work-product doctrine protect a UIM carrier’s post-litigation file. Richardson v. Gov’t Employees Ins. Co., 2017 WL 4367701 (Wash. Ct. App. Oct. 3, 2017). You may read the decision here.
Access to Attorney’s Post-Litigation File?
GEICO provided Christine Richardson with personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and UIM coverage. After suffering injuries in a car accident, Richardson received a coverage-limits payment from the at-fault driver and money from GEICO’s PIP coverage, but that was not enough. So, she filed a UIM claim and later a bad-faith lawsuit after GEICO denied UIM coverage. More…
It’s no secret. Corporate trial lawyers often hold a group meeting of several employees to prepare them for upcoming depositions. The idea, of course, is one of efficiency—the lawyer may provide an overview of the case, discuss the relevance of the employees’ testimony, and give deposition instructions in one meeting rather than multiple preparation sessions.
The question may arise whether the attorney–client privilege protects these group discussions from disclosure. And here is a twist—even if the privilege protects the employees’ individual conversations with the lawyer, does it also protect conversations within the group meeting between two employees?
The court’s decision in Pallies v. The Boeing Co., 2017 WL 3895614 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 6, 2017), provides guidance. You may read it here.
In this disability-discrimination case against The Boeing Company, Boeing’s lawyer met with several Boeing employees in a group setting to prepare them for upcoming depositions. Boeing’s counsel did so “in an effort to comply with an aggressive discovery schedule” that included 8 employee depositions over 3 days. More…