Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New Jersey Supreme Court
Martin O’Boyle was a resident of the Borough of Longport who previously filed several complaints against the Borough and its officials regarding Borough governance. In 2008 and 2009, O’Boyle filed separate lawsuits against a former planning and zoning board member, Peter Isen, and two Longport residents. David Sufrin, the private attorney representing Isen and the Longport residents, suggested to Longport’s municipal attorney that they cooperate in the defense of current and anticipated litigation filed by O’Boyle. Sufrin prepared a joint strategy memorandum and a compendium of documents contained on CDs and sent them to the municipal attorney. In time, the municipal attorney returned the assembled documents to Sufrin. O’Boyle submitted an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request and common law right of access request to the Borough Clerk that would have included the materials exchanged between Sufrin and the municipal attorney. Longport withheld those materials from its production, asserting that they were privileged. O’Boyle filed a verified complaint seeking access to the withheld documents pursuant to OPRA and the common law right of access. The trial court dismissed the case with prejudice, determining that the withheld documents were not public records subject to production under either law. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Supreme Court concluded that the Appellate Division properly determined that the parties to the pending and anticipated O’Boyle litigation shared a common purpose and that O’Boyle failed to demonstrate a particularized need to access the shared work product. Therefore, neither OPRA nor the common law permitted access to the shared work product, and the Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Division. View "O'Boyle v. Borough of Longport" on Justia Law