Confidential Information

The New York Court of Appeals recently clarified and reinforced the attorney-client privilege, explaining that certain internal training materials reflecting legal analysis of statutory, regulatory, and decisional law constituted attorney-client communications “prepared for the purpose of facilitating the rendition of legal advice or services, in the course of a professional relationship,” and rejected numerous arguments to the contrary.

Basic Test

Why stop at excluding expert testimony when you can exclude the expert? For years, expert witness conflicts doctrine has been developed through the federal common law. Although appellate courts have been relatively silent on the issue, trial courts regularly strike experts that have received confidential information from the opposing party. Courts generally disqualify expert witnesses when a prior relationship resulted in access to an adverse party’s confidential information, and that information could harm that party’s interests in the present case. Whether an expert has an impermissible conflict is generally determined by a two prong test: (1) did the party claiming a conflict reasonably believe they had a confidential relationship with the expert, and (2) did that party give the expert relevant confidential information. Wang Labs., Inc. v. Toshiba Corp. In addition to these two factors, some courts will also consider fundamental fairness and prejudice resulting from disqualification or the denial of disqualification.  See e.g. Veazey v. Hubbard.