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Monday, November 21, 2016

THE ESTATE OF FRANCIS P. KENNEDY, ET AL. VS. STUART A. ROSENBLATT, C.P.A., ET AL. A-5397-15T4


THE ESTATE OF FRANCIS P. KENNEDY, ET AL. VS. STUART A. ROSENBLATT, C.P.A., ET AL.
A-5397-15T4
This interlocutory appeal involves a conflict-of-interest issue that arose after plaintiffs' attorney, who had filed and dismissed a professional negligence action while at his former firm, recommenced the action after joining his new firm, which had represented a defendant in the original action. That defendant, now represented by the same individual attorneys (who had since joined another firm) moved to disqualify plaintiffs' new firm under RPC 1.10(b), on the basis that attorneys there had information protected by RPC 1.6 and RPC 1.9 material to the action, namely, electronically stored confidential documents.
Construing RPC 1.10(b) in light of recent amendments to RPC 1.6 (confidentiality of information) and its commentary, we concluded the senior member of plaintiff's new firm/defendant's former firm, who reviewed the electronically stored file to determine if a conflict existed, could review the metadata (defined in RPC 1.0 (p)) and document titles without violating RPC 1.10(b); but could not review the substantive content of the documents without violating RPC 1.10(b). We remanded the matter for a determination of that issue.
We also suggested the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics review what obligation the defendant's attorneys had upon leaving their former firm to assure the client's information was secure and would not be improperly accessed.