Thursday, December 1, 2011

Law firm invoices, other documents, protected by attorney-client privilege, Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court of Ohio refused to grant a writ of mandamus, this week, in a public records request case that pitted a school district versus a parent. In that case, the parent had sought access to (1)itemized invoices of law firms providing services to the district in matters pertaining to the parent and her children and (2) communications from the school district’s insurance carrier identifying attorney Janet Cooper as the district’s legal representative and describing the liability and exposure of the district and insurance company related to a case filed against the district by the parent on behalf of one of her children.

The school district provided the parent with summaries of the
invoices noting the attorney’s name, the invoice total, and the matter involved.
The district did not, however, provide the parent with the requested itemized
invoices, because they contained what it considered to be confidential
information, stating, that the itemized monthly statements contain descriptions of
the work performed by the attorneys of Bricker and Eckler, L.L.P. and include:
statements regarding their communications to each other and insurance counsel; the areas and issues the attorneys researched; and the legal issues
upon which they focused their attention.

After protracted requests and negotiations, the parent filed a request with the Supreme Court that the school district be ordered to turn over the records. Ultimately, the Supreme Court determined that the records requested were confidential and privileged, due to attorney-client privilege between the district and its counsel.