The First Department determined Supreme Court should have conducted an in camera review of documents sought from Morgan Stanley by the petitioner to see whether the documents are privileged under a “common interest privilege.” Even though a third party, NaturEner, was privy to the documents, and despite a debtor-creditor relationship between Morgan Stanley and NaturEner, because Morgan Stanley and NaturEner shared a common interest in the underlying contract dispute, the common interest privilege may apply:
The common interest privilege is an exception to the rule that the presence of a third party will waive a claim that a communication is confidential. It requires that the communication otherwise qualify for protection under the attorney-client privilege and that it be made for the purpose of furthering a legal interest or strategy common to the parties asserting it … .
We find that Morgan Stanley and NaturEner shared a common interest in their desire to have plaintiff comply with its contractual obligations under the Rim Rock agreements. The fact that respondent and defendant were in a debtor-creditor relationship did not make their interests adverse in all matters and at all times … . Under the circumstances, the court should have ordered an in camera inspection, the limited relief requested in the petition … . Matter of San Diego Gas & Elec. Co. v Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, Inc., 2016 NY Slip Op 01238, 1st Dept 2-18-16
CIVIL PROCEDURE (COMMON INTEREST PRIVILEGE MAY APPLY TO SUBPOENAED DOCUMENTS, PARTIES COOPERATING IN LAWSUIT)/COMMON INTEREST PRIVILEGE (PARTIES COOPERATING IN LAWSUIT)/PRIVILEGE (COMMON INTEREST PRIVILEGE, PARTIES COOPEERATING IN LAWSUIT)