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Harp v. King
Connecticut Supreme Court
835 A.2d 953 (2003)
Wendell Harp (plaintiff) had several loans through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) for housing developments. Harp began having issues with the CHFA and, under the state freedom-of-information laws, requested all its documents relating to him. In the many boxes of documents provided for Harp to review, Harp found two documents that contained communications between the CHFA’s lawyers and its personnel. Both documents were stamped privileged and confidential. The documents included a plan to falsely accuse Harp of mismanaging money to ruin his reputation and to obtain control of Harp’s developments. Harp made handwritten notes and then asked for photocopies of the documents. At that point, the CHFA personnel realized the documents were marked privileged and refused to make photocopies or allow Harp to look at them again. Harp sued several CHFA personnel (defendants) for various torts based on the plan that was revealed in the attorney-client documents. The CHFA refused to produce the two documents during discovery, and Harp filed a motion to compel them. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the inadvertent disclosure had not waived the documents’ privileged status. Because Harp had no real evidence without the two documents, the trial court granted summary judgment and dismissed Harp’s case. Harp appealed, arguing that the CHFA had waived any privilege when it disclosed the documents to him.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Palmer, J.)
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