Can a Party “Claw Back” Privileged Emails?

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An Oklahoma plaintiff recently asked a federal court to preclude a defendant from “clawing back” privileged documents accidentally revealed to an expert pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(5)(B). 

In March of 2017, Plaintiff discovered twelve stones in fruit pies made with black raspberries sold to it by Defendant. Plaintiff notified Defendant, which cooperated with Plaintiff in investigating the issue. Ultimately, Defendant admitted that it didn’t have the necessary insurance coverage. As a result, Plaintiff filed suit asserting claims for breach of contract and negligence. 

The documents at issue were email communications between Defendant’s employees and its legal counsel. All the emails concerned pre-suit investigation of Plaintiff‘s claims. Within the emails was a statement by Defendant‘s quality assurance manager to Defendant’s counsel  that “Black raspberries have been determined as the source of the stones.” 

Plaintiff didn’t dispute that the communications were subject to the attorney-client privilege. 

Read the rest of the decision at ForensisGroup.