Our language around settlements connotes war and peace – in settling we are “buying our peace” or “ceasing hostilities.” The old saw is that a good settlement leaves no one satisfied, but in truth, a good settlement leaves nothing significant left to do in the dispute. In abandoning claims or defenses, we seek a measure of closure. And in obtaining a durable settlement our client can live with, we necessarily rely, to some extent, on the regularity of the underlying proceedings, candor to the court, and some minimal level of good faith in the negotiations.
What happens when that reliance is upended and those expectations are dashed? A recent unpublished California decision provides a cautionary tale. It also stirred memories of a flawed settlement from three decades ago, inspiring this reverie.
The attorney-client privilege is one of “the most revered” privileges established to protect certain communications. The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently held that it was improper for a trial court to order the disclosure of information, which a party claimed was privileged work product, on an “attorneys’ eyes only” basis to counsel for the opposing party.
The District of New Jersey confirmed that members of a corporate family all are represented by the same in-house counsel, whether that counsel occupies an office within the parent company or within a subsidiary, because corporate family members are considered joint clients. Accordingly, emails sent between in-house counsel employed by a subsidiary and an executive or representative from a parent company are protected by the attorney-client privilege. See Trzaska v. L’Oreal USA, Inc., No. 2:15cv-02713 (D.N.J. January 6, 2020).