In a recent National Law Journal article by Mike Scarcella, “Email Fight Ensues in Lawsuit Over Slain Lawyer’s Death: Widow’s lawyers want Arent Fox to turn over messages drafted by former law firm partner,” Marc Zwillinger is quoted regarding email privacy in the workplace and the spousal privilege as it applies to the high profile Robert Wone wrongful death litigation.
Robert Wone, a Washington lawyer, was found stabbed to death on August 2, 2006, in a townhouse belonging to a prominent former Arent Fox partner, Joseph Price. No one has been charged with Mr. Wone’s murder and the residents of the townhome, Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward – against whom the only criminal charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and crime scene tampering were filed – were recently acquitted in June after a month long bench trial in D.C. Superior Court.
Now Mr. Wone’s widow has filed a civil suit against the three men seeking $20 million in damages for wrongful death, negligence, spoliation of evidence and conspiracy. As part of civil discovery in this litigation, Ms. Wone’s attorneys are seeking emails sent by Mr. Price to Zaborsky, Ward and others while he was a partner at Arent Fox, alleging that they are highly relevant to the case. Price has refused to permit Arent Fox to release the email, citing various privileges including attorney-client and spousal privilege. As explained by Marc Zwillinger in Mike Scarcella’s National Law Journal article, Mr. Price may be able to assert the attorney-client privilege despite the fact that he used his employer’s computer to send the email, however, his spousal privilege arguments may be less certain where the emails are in the possession of third parties.