Hickman v. Taylor

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Facts: A tugboat sank while towing a car float across the Delaware River at Philadelphia. Five crew members drowned. The tug owners employed a law firm to defend them against potential law suits by the representatives of the deceased crew members. One of the tug's lawyers, Fortenbaugh, interviewed survivors, witnesses, and other people who potentially had info. In some of the interviews, Fortenbaugh made memoranda of what the interviewees told him during some of the interviews.

Procedural History: Representatives of each of the five deceased filed claims against the tug owners. Four were settled. The plaintiff requested, among other things, any memoranda made in regards to the interviews. The defendants refused to comply with the request, saying that the memo re: the interviews were privileged info. Ct. held them in contempt. Circuit Ct. reversed judgment b/c the info sought was the "work product of the lawyer," and was privileged so it was protected.

Issue: What should be handed over in response to an interrogatory, and what does not have to be?

Holding: The info is the work-product of the attorney and can be found out by the research of the plaintiffs, so does not need to be handed over.

Reasons: The requested info included "files and mental impressions" of the attorney, or "work product of the lawyer." Material fell outside the arena of discovery.

Judgment: Affirmed