In Louisiana, the collateral source rule mandates that a tort plaintiff be awarded the full value of his medical expenses against the tortfeasor, including any amounts written off by the provider, when that plaintiff paid some “consideration” (money) for the benefit of the written-off amount. In other words, even though a person may have health
The attorney-client privilege ranks among the oldest and most established evidentiary privileges known to our law. This privilege allows clients to communicate freely with legal counsel without worry of disclosure through discovery or at trial. Moreover, the joint defense privilege has been recognized as an extension of the attorney- client privilege which gives attorneys and clients alike additional room to share privileged information to third parties without creating a waiver. However, since its recognition, use of the joint defense privilege has created questions in the legal community regarding the discoverability of such information for use against a party to the joint defense in litigation.
In general, the joint defense privilege “extends the attorney-client privilege to any third party made privy to privileged communications if that party ‘has a common legal interest with respect to the subject matter of the communication.’’’ Aiken v. Texas Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co., 151 F.R.D. 621, 624 (E.D. Tex. 1993) (citing In re Auclair, 961 F.2d 65, 69 (5th Cir. 1992)). Moreover, the joint defense privilege “encompasses shared communications between various co-defendants, actual or potential, and their attorneys, prompted by threatened or actual, civil or criminal proceedings, ‘to the extent that they concern common issues and are intended to facilitate representation in possible subsequent proceedings’ … ‘or whenever the communication was made in order to facilitate the rendition of legal services to each of the clients involved in the conference.’” Id. at 624.
In cases where punitive damages have been claimed and could potentially be awarded defendants should be aware of whether, and to what extent, their wealth and financial data is subject to discovery. Louisiana courts seem to be in agreement that when punitive or exemplary damages are claimed, a defendant’s financial status is discoverable since such information is relevant to the subject matter of the action. See Lacoste v. Crochet, 99-0602 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1/5/00), 751 So.2d 998, 1005. However, it is not clear as to the extent to which a party may conduct discovery into the wealth and financial matters of a defendant when dealing with a potentially viable punitive damages claim.
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