Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Superior Rejects Trial Court's Allowance of Provisional 'Attorneys' Eyes Only" Review of Privileged Documents in Discovery

In the business dispute civil litigation case of CLL Academy Inc. v. Academy House Council et al., No. 446 EDA 2019 (Pa. Super. April 6, 2020 Bowes, J. Olson, J., Ford Elliott, P. J.E.)(Op. by Bowes, J.), the court issued a decision that, as precedent, serves to bar trial judges from allowing opposing counsel to view potentially privileged documents when holding hearings to determine if those materials should be released when sought in discovery.

The Superior Court's decision overruled a Philadelphia County trial judge's order that a defendant be required to provide a plaintiff with documents to review on a provisional "attorneys' eyes only" basis as the two sides hammered out a dispute over whether or not the material was shielded by work product protections.

The Superior Court ruled that such a designation would be incompatible with Pennsylvania civil procedure and law regarding the attorney-client privilege and work product protections.

The Superior Court found the 'attorneys' eyes only' procedure allowed by the trial court "to be wholly inconsistent with the in camera review sanctioned by our rules of civil procedure for evaluating claims of privilege."

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

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