The American Bar Association recently published Formal Opinion 11-460 to provide guidance to attorneys regarding their ethical duty upon discovering emails between a third party and the third party’s attorney. The Opinion interprets Model Rule 4.4(b) literally, concluding that neither that rule nor any other requires an attorney to notify opposing counsel of receipt of potentially privileged communications. The Opinion is of particular note because it directly contradicts the New Jersey Supreme Court’s opinion in Stengart v. Loving Care Agency. Inc. 201 N.J. 300 (2010).
That was the lesson of a recent case out of the New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, where the court refused to order a forensic examination of a plaintiff’s personal computer hard drive. DeRiggi v. Krischen arose out of the death of a woman during a routine surgical procedure to treat lower back pain. Plaintiffs alleged that her death was the result of perforation of the left common iliac vein by a “Spine Jet HydroDisectomy” system utilized during the procedure. Plaintiffs further alleged, among other things, that the manufacturer of the system misrepresented the risks affiliated with its use, and one of the plaintiffs, the decedent’s husband, testified at deposition that he and his wife visited the manufacturer’s website prior to the surgery and read that the procedure “felt like a bee sting and nothing more.”