Thursday, January 28, 2010

Whistleblower Case Provides Lessons on Attorney-Client Privilege Protections

Shannon K. DeBra of Bricker & Eckler LLP has provided a summary of what is considered privileged attorney-client information, and what is not in the context of a lawsuit involving Christ Hospital of Ohio, Ohio Heart Center, and the Health Alliance.

According to the Department of Justice, Dr. Harry Fry, a cardiologist for Christ Hospital and Ohio Heart acted as a whistleblower under the False Claims Act, reporting that the organizations were involved in a scheme providing cardiologists with "improper incentives in exchange for generating revenue for the hospital."

In this case, Christ Hospital refused to turn over documents to Dr. Fry, including handwritten notes and meeting minutes that the hospital claimed were protected under the attorney-client privilege.

DeBra's article breaks down the communication requested by Fry and discusses what information is privileged and what is not. DeBra provides the following summary:

"This most recent decision in The Christ Hospital whistleblower case makes clear it is essential that any written communications (including emails and notes taken during meetings) discussing legal advice or the intent to seek legal advice about an issue include enough information to establish that legal advice was discussed or that an intent to seek it existed. A mere assertion later that such intent existed or that legal advice was discussed, without more explicit evidence, may not be sufficient to protect the document from discovery under the attorney-client privilege."

To read the full article, click here:

Source: Bricker & Eckler LLP

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