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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Cozen O’Connor Says: “Are Attorneys’ Bills Privileged Once Litigation Ends – California

For persons and entities involved in mass tort claiming and litigation with insurance companies and/or other payors, there’s a new and potentially notable ruling about access to past bills for legal work. The ruling is described in a February 14, 2017 article at JD Supra by Cozen O’Connor.  Pasted below are the introduction and conclusion from the article. The entire article – and the opinion – should be read by people thinking about the long term, mass torts and insurance.


“The California Supreme Court recently held, in Los Angeles Board of Supervisors v. Superior Court(2016) that attorneys’ invoices may not be protected by the attorney-client privilege after litigation ends. The issue arose out of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU to obtain billing records by law firms representing the City of Los Angeles to defend litigation brought by jail inmates. The ACLU’s position was that these law firms engaged in “scorched earth” tactics.


There are three takeaways from this decision. The first is that this case signals a radical departure from the Court’s prior trend, as exemplified by the Costco case, of giving wide berth to attorney-client privilege, and retaining that privilege beyond the termination of the litigation. The second is that the academics on the Court may not appreciate the degree to which fee bills provide information to clients, especially insurance clients. The third is that this case has significance far beyond a Public Records Act dispute.”

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