Scope of federal “common interest” privilege

The owners of a self-storage company sued Morgan Stanley, alleging that it mishandled the negotiation of substantial insurance claims arising from Hurricane Katrina.  An issue on appeal was whether, under federal common law, a communication between the company’s corporate counsel to Morgan Stanley was privileged.  The Fifth Circuit noted that while “[s]everal courts — including lower courts in this circuit — have held that the [common interest] privilege extends to co-plaintiffs in litigation,” “this court has not expressly held that the privilege is inapplicable to co-plaintiffs.  The Court did not need to address that issue, however, because it found that this communication was not made to “further a joint or common interest.”  (emphasis in original)  BCR Safeguard Holding, LLC v. Morgan Stanley Real Estate Advisor, Inc., No. 14-31068 (June 2, 2015, unpublished).

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