In a decision that gives the green light to an important component of the Christie Administration’s “Common Sense Principles” approach to regulation, the Appellate Division has upheld the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) “waiver rule,” which permits the department to waive strict compliance with many of its regulations in defined circumstances. Full implementation of the rule will have to wait, however, as the Appellate Court invalidated a variety of forms and guidance documents that NJDEP had posted on its website without going through the normal rulemaking process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
As we recently reported, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced on March 8 that it had finalized a new waiver rule that will permit the department to relax environmental rules in certain limited circumstances. It took a coalition of environmental and labor groups just two weeks to file a lawsuit challenging the new rule.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced on March 8 that it had finalized a new waiver rule that will permit the department to relax environmental rules in certain limited circumstances. The new rule, which grew out an executive order from Governor Christie that called upon state agencies to apply “common sense principles” in implementing and enforcing legal requirements, will be formally published on April 2, 2012 and will become effective on August 1, 2012.
When a party voluntarily dumps data on its adversary without first conducting a meaningful privilege review, that party may be deemed to have waived any applicable privileges, particularly where it fails to timely argue that a privilege review would be too costly. That is the lesson of In re Fontainebleau Las Vegas Contract Litig., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4105 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 7, 2011), a cautionary tale of the dangers of data dumping. After repeatedly failing to meet court-ordered production deadlines, in response to a subpoena, Fontainebleau Resorts, LLC (“FBR”) essentially dumped on the requesting parties (the “Term Lenders”) three servers containing approximately 800 GB of data–without first conducting any meaningful privilege review. Consequently, in its January 7th decision, the court granted the Term Lenders’ motion seeking a declaration that FBR waived its privilege claims. Had FBR litigated this matter differently, it might have protected its privileged information.
Despite recent decisions from courts of last resort on State and federal levels, some jurisdictions are not extending full protection to otherwise privileged communications made through work-issued computers and PDAs. We last wrote on this issue after the New Jersey Supreme Court held that an employee did not waive the attorney-client privilege when using a company computer to communicate with her attorney via a personal password-protected e-mail account. Stengart v. Loving Care Agency. A short time later, in Quon v. Arch Wireless, the United States Supreme Court determined that the search of an employee’s text messages on a work-issued pager was reasonable and did not violate the employee’s Fourth Amendment rights. In the wake of these holdings, courts in other jurisdictions continue to make their own path through this new area of law. In Holmes v. Petrovich Development Company, LLC, the latest in the line of cases, the California Court of Appeals held that an employee’s e-mail communications with her attorney from her work computer did not constitute “‘a confidential communication between client and lawyer'” under Section 954 of the California Evidence Code.
Some traditional practices from the paper era don’t translate well to the world of e-communication. And some are downright dangerous. Back in the day, attorneys would often “bcc” their clients on correspondence to adversaries, an efficient and relatively safe means of keeping the client apprised. No longer in the age of email, where the ability to instantly respond invites quick, at times reactionary, replies that can easily fall into the wrong hands, with potentially devastating consequences.
In Rare Application of Waiver Doctrine, Federal Court Holds That New Jersey Gave Up Right to Seek Natural Resource Damages at Contaminated Site
It is difficult for a defendant to avoid a claim by invoking the doctrine of waiver, which requires proof of a clear, unequivocal act showing that the plaintiff deliberately intended to relinquish a known legal right. It is doubly difficult when the plaintiff is the State of New Jersey, against which the application of the doctrine is, in the words of a leading Supreme Court case, to be “most strictly limited.”