Noble v. City of Norwalk
A municipality's decision to disclose an employee as an expert witness can waive the attorney-client privilege with respect to e-mails between that employee and the city attorney. The plaintiffs, who own a condominium unit in Norwalk, appealed the Oct. 1, 2008, valuation of the municipal assessor. The municipality disclosed its assistant tax assessor, William O'Brien, as an expert witness. The plaintiffs arranged to serve a subpoena duces tecum on O'Brien and asked that he produce any and all communications and correspondence between O'Brien and the city or the city's attorney concerning their case. The defendant municipality produced a privilege log of 40 e-mails between O'Brien and the city attorney and objected that 17 of the e-mails were protected by the attorney-client privilege. Generally, communications between a client and attorney are privileged, when made in confidence for the purpose of furnishing legal advice. The attorney-client privilege does not extend to communications between an attorney and an independent expert. The court did not find any Connecticut state court decisions directly on point. The court relied on federal court decisions and concluded that the city's disclosure of O'Brien as an expert effectively waived the attorney-client privilege with respect to the 17 e-mails. The court granted the plaintiff's motion for order of compliance and denied the city's objection.