Case Law

Court Grants Restraining Order in Light of Inadvertent Disclosure

California

Newark Unified Sch. Dist. v. Superior Court , 2015 WL 4594095 (Cal. Ct. App. July 31, 2015). In this inadvertent document release case, the plaintiff sought injunctive relief against the defendant, requiring the return or destruction of privileged, exempt or confidential records that had been improperly released. The plaintiff sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) shortly after filing a complaint, but the defendant argued that, under a legislative law, the “disclosure” of a public record constitutes a waiver of applicable exemptions from disclosure. Examining past holdings, the court ruled that the term “waiver” did not include accidental, inadvertent disclosures, which included the electronically stored materials produced during discovery. In addition, the court found that an attorney who receives inadvertently produced documents during discovery has an ethical duty to “refrain from unnecessary review of the documents, notify opposing counsel, and return the documents upon request”. The court vacated the lower court’s decision to deny the TRO and ordered the defendant to refrain from dissemination of inadvertently produced privileged documents.

Keywords: Disclosure, Production, Discovery, ESI