In a surprising decision, the Washington Supreme Court, in a 5–4 ruling, held that the corporate attorney–client privilege does not protect communications between an organization’s counsel and its former employees. In the face of a strong dissenting opinion, the majority departed from most other courts’ rulings that, based on SCOTUS’s Upjohn decision, the privilege covers a former employee’s communications so long as they pertain to the subject matter of her employment. Newman v. Highland Sch. Dist., 381 P.3d 1188 (Wash. 2016). You may read the decision here.
Background & Issue Presented
Matthew Newman sued his school district after suffering a permanent brain injury during a football game. The district’s outside counsel interviewed all of the football coaches, some of whom no longer worked for the district at the time of the interviews.