Walton v. Mid-Atlantic Spine Specialists

While I was off running silly contests and generally doing my best to single-handedly drive up our insurance ratesthe Supreme Court of Virginia handed down a new batch of opinions last week.

Of particular note is Walton v. Mid-Atlantic Spine Specialists, P.C., which addresses the attorney-client privilege, and specifically the issue of inadvertent waiver.

Walton is a med mal case. The defendant doctor wrote a letter to his lawyer in which he suggested that he may have reviewed the wrong x-ray before assessing the plaintiff. That letter was produced in a workers’ comp proceeding, and it eventually made its way into the plaintiff’s hands.

Walton advised the defendants that she had this letter in her interrogatory answers. About a year and a half later, the defendants moved for a protective order against the use or distribution of the letter. The circuit court granted that order. It found that the letter was privileged and had been involuntarily disclosed, so the privilege had not been waived. The plaintiff went to trial without the letter, and the jury found in favor of the defendants.

On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed. The dispositive issue before it was whether the doctor’s inadvertent disclosure of the letter waived the attorney-client privilege. The Court ruled that it had.Continue Reading Walton v. Mid-Atlantic Spine Specialists, P.C: Supreme Court of Virginia Defines Test for Inadvertent Waiver of Privilege