On July 1, 2020, Amended New Jersey Rule of Evidence 530 (Waiver of Privilege by Contract or Previous Disclosure) became effective. N.J.R.E. 530, which tracks Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 502, was amended as a result of the increasing use of electronic discovery in litigation and the associated concerns regarding the potential for the inadvertent disclosures. This blog has frequently addressed decisions involving F.R.E. 502, including in 2019, 2018, and 2012. Amended N.J.R.E. 530 includes significant revisions in paragraph(c), which includes provisions that apply “to disclosure of a communication or information covered by the attorney-client privilege or work-product protection.” N.J.R.E. 530(c). In particular, amended N.J.R.E. 530(c) addresses disclosures made during state proceedings or to state office or agency, N.J.R.E 530(c)(1); inadvertent disclosures, N.J.R.E. 530(c)(2); disclosures made in another forum’s proceeding, N.J.R.E. 530(c)(3); the controlling effect of a court’s order, N.J.R.E. 530(c)(4); and the controlling effect of a party agreement regarding disclosure, N.J.R.E. 530(c)(5). Under the amended Rule, it is clear that a court order regarding disclosure pursuant to N.J.R.E. 530(c)(4) has the potential to have a significant impact on other litigations, as the rule provides that a court order on privilege “is also not a waiver in any other federal...
Inadvertently Produced Privileged Material May Generally Be Used for Purpose of Challenging Assertion of Privilege
A New York federal court has recently held that inadvertently produced privileged documents may be used by the receiving party for the limited purpose of challenging the claim of privilege to the extent that the receiving party became aware of the contents of those documents prior to the assertion of the privilege over those documents. In re Keurig Green Mt. Single Serve Coffee Antitrust Litig. In that case, the parties had entered into a stipulated protective order with a Federal Rule of Evidence 502(d) clawback provision, but the parties relied on two different provisions of the same order to support their arguments concerning whether the privileged document could be relied upon in challenging the claim of privilege. The order stated that “[i]f a party has inadvertently or mistakenly produced Privileged Material, and if the party makes a written request for the return, … the receiving party will also make no use of the information contained in the Privileged Material … regardless of whether the receiving party disputes the claim of privilege.” However, the order also stated that “[t]he receiving party may not use the Privileged Material … for any purpose whatsoever other than moving the Court for an order compelling...
Inadvertent Production Deemed Waiver of Privilege Where Counsel Was Reckless and Clawback Agreement Was Unclear
The Southern District of Ohio recently clarified the relationship between FRE 502 and clawback agreements in its finding that a party’s counsel was “completely reckless” in producing the same privileged documents on two separate occasions. In Irth Sols., LLC v. Windstream Commc’ns LLC, the parties entered into a clawback agreement that was memorialized in three bullet points in an email exchange between counsel. The agreement provided that an inadvertent disclosure (a term not defined in the agreement) would not waive the attorney-client privilege. The parties further agreed that, “based on the scale of the case,” it was unnecessary to ask the court to enter an order under Rule 502(d), whereby the court may order “that the privilege or protection is not waived by disclosure connected with the litigation pending before the court.” Defendant then produced documents, 43 of which defendant later discovered were privileged. Defense counsel argued the reviewing defense attorney failed to designate the documents privileged because he was not familiar with the name of defendant’s in-house counsel and the second level review neither caught this error nor flagged search words such as “legal.” Upon discovering the error, defense counsel requested a clawback of the 43 documents. Plaintiff’s counsel...
New York State Courts Look to Adopt Rules Requiring Parties to Discuss E-Discovery at the Outset of Litigation
The E-Discovery Working Group has recommended changes to the New York State Court rules concerning e-discovery that would significantly expand litigants’ obligations to confer concerning anticipated e-discovery issues. Currently, only the rules that govern cases pending before the Commercial Division require that parties confer about expected e-discovery issues at the outset of a litigation. (See Section 202.70 Rule 8 of the Uniform Rules). The E-Discovery Working Group has not only recommended that this rule be expanded to include all New York State Courts, but also to provide specific guidance concerning what e-discovery issues ought to be discussed by the parties. These issues include identifying potentially relevant categories of data and relevant computer servers, implementing measures to preserve relevant information, agreeing to procedures for parties to recall any privileged information that they provide by accident and discussing the likely cost and allocation of e-discovery between the parties.
Inadvertent Production of Two Privileged Pages Among Over Two Million May Waive the Attorney-Client Privilege
The burdens associated with a massive document review of electronically-stored information (“ESI”) will not, in and of themselves, preclude a court from finding that a party has waived the attorney-client privilege with respect to an inadvertently produced document. In Jacob v. Duane Reade, Inc., Magistrate Judge Katz of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York held that a privileged, two-page email that was inadvertently produced during the review of over two million documents in less than one month did not have to be returned and that the privilege had been waived because the producing party, Duane Reade, had failed to timely request its return. Duane Reade had used an outside vendor and review team to conduct its review of this large volume of ESI. The document in question concerned a meeting among several individuals, including an in-house attorney at Duane Reade. Duane Reade argued that the email was inadvertently produced because it was neither from nor to an attorney, and only included advice received at a meeting from an in-house attorney, identified in the email only by the first name “Julie.”
In 2008, Congress adopted Federal Rule of Evidence 502. FRE 502 was designed to promote discovery by providing litigants with a tool to control review costs in large-scale document or electronic evidence productions while avoiding the risk of wholesale subject matter waiver in cases of inadvertent production of privileged materials. Under Rule 502, where privileged material (or other information protected from disclosure) is inadvertently revealed, the disclosing party retains the privilege so long as it took reasonable steps both to prevent the disclosure and to rectify its mistake. Although it is still in its infancy, Rule 502 nonetheless appears to be living up to expectations. Indeed, as two recent federal decisions demonstrate, FRE 502 is not simply a tool available to litigants but rather, it is yet another weapon in a judge’s arsenal, permitting the court to manage discovery and protect privilege, through sua sponte entry of clawback orders.
Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm, a renowned authority on e-discovery, recently published an article in the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology discussing Federal Rule of Evidence 502. Judge Grimm’s article, “Federal Rule of Evidence 502: Has It Lived Up To Its Potential?,” provides a comprehensive analysis of Rule 502, offers frank criticism of court decisions interpreting the rule and outlines do’s and don’ts for practitioners.