An entire e-mail chain cannot be withheld during e-discovery on the grounds that it contains a single e-mail with privileged information, a Long Island federal magistrate judge has ruled. The ruling came during discovery in BenefitVision Inc. v. Gentiva Health Services Inc., 2:09-cv-00473, an $800,000 contract dispute between benefits consultant BenefitVision and Gentiva, one of its clients.

Eastern District Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson ruled on May 23 that Gentiva could not withhold e-mail chains from production as protected by attorney-client privilege unless the entire chain was privileged. “If an intermediary e-mail in the chain is not subject to work-product or attorney-client privilege, it cannot be withheld from production,” she ruled. “If there are e-mail chains in which Defendants claim privilege over only parts of the e-mail chain, those allegedly privileged e-mails must be redacted and all nonprivileged portions must be produced.”

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