In In re City of Dickinson, 568 S.W.3d 642 (Tex. 2019), the Supreme Court of Texas recently assessed whether a client’s emails with its counsel were subject to disclosure after the client was designated as a testifying expert witness. In re City of Dickinson involved a coverage dispute between a policyholder and its insurer. The policyholder moved for summary judgment on the issue of causation, essentially alleging that its insurer did not pay all damages caused by Hurricane Ike. In responding to the motion, the insurer relied upon an affidavit by one of its employees, a claims examiner, that included both factual testimony and expert witness testimony.
The policyholder subsequently filed a motion to compel, seeking the production of emails between the claims examiner and the insurer’s counsel that were generated while the affidavit was being drafted. The emails contained numerous revisions of the affidavit. The insurer objected, asserting that the emails were protected by the attorney-client privilege and were generated in the course of the rendition of legal services.
The trial court granted the motion to compel, ordering production. Ultimately, after a series of appeals, the Supreme Court had to decide whether the documents in dispute were subject to discovery. In resolving this issue, the court examined the rules pertaining to expert disclosures. As noted by the court, the rules authorize the production of all documents provided to a testifying expert witness. Thus, the court was faced with determining if its rules required the disclosure of documents that are also subject to the attorney-client privilege.