How Mohawk Will Affect Litigation

Law360, New York (February 04, 2010) — Here are two sentences lawyers would be happy never to read in an order directed to their clients: “The attorney-client privilege has been vitiated. Produce previously protected communications.”

Harsh consequences can radiate out from such words like ripples in a pond: litigation strategy may be revealed; embarrassing, damaging — and often irrelevant — discussions will be viewed and probably used by the opposing party; and lawyers will become deponents.

The initial reaction of any lawyer and client is likely, “Can we appeal and stay the order of production?” For a number of years, the answer to this question was, “It depends on the circuit.” Now, the answer is more simply “No.”

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Mohawk Industries Inc. v. Carpenter, resolved a circuit split by holding that orders ruling against claims of attorney-client privilege are not immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine.

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