Agendas of Third-Party Meetings May Be Discoverable says Fifth Circuit
As part of the discovery process in a recent asbestos lawsuit, a defendant employer produced a number of documents, including agendas of meetings between the employer and a consulting firm that conducted asbestos-related research. Other plaintiffs sought un-redacted versions of the meeting agendas.
After conducting an in camera review of the documents, the court determined that the agendas were relevant and ordered the employer to produce them in un-redacted form. On appeal, the Fifth District Appellate Court affirmed, noting that the documents were relevant because the meetings involved discussion of research related to asbestos litigation involving the types of products at issue in the cases at hand and that the lower court did not err in requiring production of un-redacted versions of the documents.
The documents were not protected by the work-product doctrine because they were created by the consulting firm, not an attorney, and there was no agency relationship between the consultant and the employer. The agendas also were not protected by the state consultant work-product privilege because they consisted only of bulleted points, not core work product.
These findings might have implications in some jurisdictions relative to the use of third parties in litigation proceedings.