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Attorney-Client Privilege

E-Mail to Lawyer Not Privileged Because of Employer Policy

Posted Oct 30, 2007 8:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A New York judge has ruled that a hospital’s e-mail policy means messages sent by a physician to his lawyers are not protected by attorney-client privilege.

The policy at Beth Israel Medical Center specified that employees had no personal property right in their messages and the hospital had the right to read and disclose e-mails, the New York Law Journal reports in a story reprinted by New York Lawyer.

Judge Charles Ramos of Manhattan ruled the e-mail sent from a hospital computer could be disclosed in a lawsuit by physician W. Norman Scott that claims he was fired in violation of his contract.

Scott is represented by Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison. The law firm had argued its e-mail confidentiality notice protected the e-mail. But Ramos said the disclaimer “cannot create a right to confidentiality out of whole cloth."

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