U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman has ruled General Motors does not have to turn over notes from lawyer Anton Valukas’ internal investigation into the company to lawyers suing the automaker. Automotive News says Furman ruled the notes were protected by attorney-client privledge, shileding material from plaintiffs which could potentially help their cases against GM.
The notes are from interviews conducted inside GM by Valukas, chairman of law firm Jenner & Block, who the automaker hired to conduct a probe of the company following its controversial ignition switch recall last year. Valukas and his law firm reportedly conducted over 350 interviews with 230 witnesses during his investigation, taking careful notes and summaries of all the conversations.
While the “Valukas Report” is public, GM argues the interview notes taken by Valukas and his team aren’t public material as they were specially prepared by Jenner & Block lawyers. Plaintiffs’ lawyers tried to argued the notes were not protected under attorney-client privledge as they did not count as legal advice, however Judge Furman ruled GM has established a valid claim and that “the cost of withholding the materials is outweighed by the benefits to society of encouraging full and frank communication.”