Objections To Production of Emails Overruled Due To Lack of Privilege

11 Dec 2019

In Guardiola v. Adams City School District No. 14 et al., No. 1:18-cv-03230-RM-NRN (D. Colo. Oct. 25, 2019), the District Court Judge overruled Defendant’s objection to the Magistrate Judge’s order compelling them to disclose certain emails that Defendant argued were subject to the attorney-client privilege on the grounds that “the disputed emails do not directly request or offer legal advice.”

In this wrongful termination case, a discovery dispute arose regarding five emails related to a school board meeting in which the parties participated. After reviewing the emails in camera and inviting briefing on the issue of attorney-client privilege, the Magistrate Judge determined although two of the emails were privileged, the remaining three were not. The magistrate determined that the emails were not privileged simply because the attorney was included in the discussions that revolved around business communications.

In ruling on the objections, the Court states that “the privilege ‘protects only those disclosures necessary to obtain informed legal advice which might not have been made absent the privilege.’” Applied to the case, the Court holds that “the disputed emails do not directly request or offer legal advice. Nor are they necessary to obtain such advice. Instead, the disputed emails are part of a broader discussion about increasing security at school board meetings. Although legal considerations are one component of that discussion, the disputed emails, on their face, predominantly relate to other issues.” Further, the Court states that “to the extent legal issues are tangentially related to the broader topic of security, that is not enough to bring the content of these emails within the attorney client privilege.”