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Washington Court Allows Ex Parte Communication With Litigant's Non Party Employees

Washington State residents Nancy and Daniel Wright challenged a court order preventing ex parte communication with Group Health Hospital (GHH) personnel regarding their injury lawsuit. The ruling was reversed as to communication with non party employees not having managerial authority.

The Wrights brought suit on behalf of their son Jeffrey who was injured at GHH during birth. Their attorney was given GHH nurse contact information but warned not to contact them without GHH legal staff present. Their attorney petitioned to allow ex parte communication with the nurses which was denied due to provisions of Washington Rev. Code § 5.50.060(2) for attorney client protections.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of Washington held that the attorney client privilege did not bar communication with non party personnel as long as they did not possess managerial authority "to speak for and bind" the hospital. See: Wright v. Health Group Hospital, 103 Wn. 192, 691 P.2d 564 (Wash. 1984).

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Related legal case

Wright v. Health Group Hospital