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Patriarca v. Center for Living & Working, Inc.

438 Mass. 132, 778 N.E.2d 877 (2002)

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Patriarca v. Center for Living & Working, Inc.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

438 Mass. 132, 778 N.E.2d 877 (2002)

Facts

Ellen Patriarca (plaintiff) sued the Center for Living and Working, Inc. (Center) (defendant) for wrongful termination. During the discovery phase of litigation, Patriarca revealed that she had contact with four former Center employees and discussed events that happened while they worked at the Center. Two of the former employees were occupational therapists, one was a manager-supervisor, and the fourth was a business manager at the Center who witnessed the events leading to Patriarca leaving the Center. The Center filed a motion for a protective order to bar Patriarca and her counsel from having ex parte communications with the Center’s former employees. The judge ruled that Rule 4.2 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct may prohibit ex parte communications with the Center’s former employees, because the former employee’s statements could be used against the Center in litigation. The judge issued an order barring Patriarca’s counsel from contacting the Center’s former employees, unless the Center’s counsel was present or the court granted permission. Patriarca appealed the court’s order barring contact with the Center’s former employees.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Spina, J.)

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