Pennsylvania Expands Attorney Work-Product Protection for Disclosures to Third Parties

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Jane Fox Lehman

Construction disputes frequently require companies to engage third-party consultants to analyze and opine on such issues as delays, defects in workmanship or materials, and deficiencies in payment— even before they anticipate litigation.  Construction companies should keep in mind that materials they provide consultants, and materials that consultants generate, can in certain circumstances be discoverable in any subsequent litigation of the disputes.  Companies should always be especially cautious when sharing materials that contain their inside or outside counsel’s legal advice with third parties, including consultants, as this can waive the attorney-client privilege that would otherwise protect this advice from discovery.  But companies working on Pennsylvania projects can take heart from a recent decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that expands the attorney work-product protection for materials shared with third-party consultants: such materials may be protected from discovery under Pennsylvania law so long as they were not shared with dispute adversaries, or in a way that “significantly increases the likelihood” that those adversaries would discover them.

 

The Washington Court of Appeals Clarifies When the Statute of Limitations for a Negligence Claim Begins to Run Under the Discovery Rule

Dep’t of Transp. v. Seattle Tunnel Partners, 2019 BL 36988, 2 (Wash. App. Div. 2 Feb. 05, 2019)

Christine Z. Fan

On January 8, 2019, the Court of Appeals for the State of Washington reversed and remanded in part a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in a tunnel-boring construction case.  Specifically, the Court clarified that the three-year statute of limitations for negligence claims begins to run as soon as the aggrieved party becomes aware of the factual elements of the claims.  It does not matter whether the underlying cause of the claims remains disputed.

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New York Commercial Division Enacts New Rule to Promote More Efficient Privilege Logging

When responding to document requests or a subpoena duces tecum, litigants in New York traditionally have been faced with the onerous privilege log requirements set forth in Section 3122 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.  Section 3122 requires a litigant who withholds any responsive documents to provide to the requesting party a privilege log containing a separate entry for each withheld document.  Each entry must disclose the legal grounds on which the document is withheld, in addition to certain identifying information including the type of document, the general subject matter of the document, and the date of the document.  N.Y. CPLR § 3122(b).  In complex construction disputes, there is often a large volume of privileged documents, and thus preparing a privilege log that meets the requirements of Section 3122 can be time consuming and expensive.

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