General Electric Capital Corp. v. Richter
A court can order a temporary worker who allegedly copied files that contained information protected by the attorney-work product privilege to swear under oath that he has deleted the files and to permit an inspection of his home computer and portable USB drive. Allegedly, the defendant, Scott Richter, worked as a contract paralegal for Kelly Services Inc., and Kelly assigned Richter to work for the plaintiff, General Electric Capital Corp. On Feb. 17, 2012, when Richter's assignment ended, he returned his computer laptop to GE, which allegedly discovered that Richter copied confidential files, which contained information protected by the attorney-work product privilege, from his GE computer laptop to a portable USB drive. General Electric sued Richter and requested a temporary court injunction, ordering Richter to return the confidential files. General Electric established a reasonable degree of probability of success on its claim that Richter agreed to protect and to return confidential information and that Richter breached a contract. The documents were confidential, and Richter owed GE the duty of good faith and loyalty. Richter clearly was not allowed to take GE documents. "The defendant," wrote the court, "has breached a fiduciary duty in that through his legal training, he was aware of ethical consequences of his actions." The alleged theft of confidential documents resulted in an irreparable injury to GE. The court was unable to quantify monetary damages, and it found equitable relief appropriate. The court enjoined Richter from the use or disclosure of 17 General Electric documents and ordered Richter to swear under oath that he permanently deleted the documents from any computers or electronic storage devices in his possession or control. The court also ordered Richter to permit General Electric to inspect his computer, his portable USB drive and any electronic storage devices.