In Bousamra v. Excela Health, 2017 PA Super 66 (March 13), the state Superior Court addressed whether a company waives the attorney-client and work-product privileges when it shares privileged communications with a third party. More specifically, the Bousamra court addressed whether a hospital waived the attorney-client privilege by sharing a legal opinion letter with its public relations consultant. For the reasons explained below, the Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the hospital waived the attorney-client privilege.

As a matter of background, the lawsuit arose out of a hospital publicly accusing two physicians of providing unnecessary medical procedures. The hospital was sued by the two accused physicians and discovery ensued. Through discovery, the physicians learned that the hospital had hired a public relations consultant. The physicians also learned that the hospital retained outside counsel to provide an opinion letter on the propriety of publicly naming the physicians when announcing the findings of misconduct. A dispute arose when the hospital claimed that the outside counsel’s opinion letter was privileged, despite the fact that it was shared with its public relations consultant.

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