It is not uncommon for a single lawyer to represent two or more plaintiffs in separate lawsuits against one defendant. If these plaintiffs–clients confer jointly with their lawyer, does the attorney–client privilege protect these discussions from discovery?
In a decision that properly distinguishes the joint–client doctrine and the common–interest doctrine, the USDC for Connecticut held—yes. Supreme Forest Prods., Inc. v. Kennedy, 2017 WL 120644 (D. Conn. Jan. 12, 2017). You may read the decision here.
Two Plaintiffs. One Lawyer.
Michael Kennedy and Ferrell Welch retained attorney Michael Reilly to sue their employer, Supreme Forest, for wrongful discharge. Mr. Reilly filed separate lawsuits on Kennedy and Welch’s behalf. During these lawsuits, Kennedy and Welch jointly participated in meetings with Reilly.
Supreme Forest later filed a separate action against Kennedy and Welch alleging the Kennedy and Welch’s secret tape-recordings of Supreme Forest employees gave rise to several state-law causes of action. In discovery, Supreme Forest sought communications from Kennedy and Welch’s joint meetings with attorney Reilly.