Court Orders Production of Attorney-Client Communication in Misclassification Case
In Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Superior Court, a putative class action alleging misclassification of certain Costco managers,
On review, the Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court's order, based on its determination that Costco has not proven the need for "extraordinary" writ relief. According to the court, Costco had not demonstrated that it would be "irreparably harmed" by disclosure of portions of the memorandum describing managers' job duties because, according to the court, this information "came from job descriptions and interviews with two managers," was "inconsequential," and did not "infringe on the attorney-client relationship." The court rejected Costco's argument that the factual portions of the memorandum were work product in that they necessarily reflected counsel's legal impression of the facts. The court also concluded that Costco would not be harmed by the disclosure because the information was readily available through other sources anyway, i.e. depositions, interrogatories, requests for production of job descriptions.
Assuming the Costco decision withstands further appeal, it should be expected that plaintiffs' attorneys will heavily rely on this decision going forward as a means of trying to obtain in camera review and possible production of legal memoranda and other communications between counsel and their clients, analyzing the propriety of exempt classification.