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Hickman v. Taylor

Citation. 329 U.S. 495, 67 S.Ct. 385, 91 L.Ed. 451 (1947)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Defendant’s attorney interviewed survivors of a tugboat accident. Plaintiff requested the attorney’s written statements from the interview through discovery. Defendant argued the information was privileged attorney work product.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Attorney work product cannot be requested through discovery without a showing of necessity.


Five crew members died in an accident on the tugboat, J.M. Taylor (Defendant). An attorney was hired by the Defendant to investigate the accident. The attorney interviewed four survivors who later publicly testified about the accident. A representative of one of the victims (Plaintiff) sued Defendant and requested through discovery the attorney’s written statements from the survivors. Defendant’s argued the statements were privileged attorney work product.


Could the written statements, taken in preparation for trial, be requested through discovery without a showing of necessity?


No, the information cannot be requested without proof of necessity. The Court of Appeals is affirmed.


The Court determined that the Plaintiff did not meet the burden of necessity for requesting the attorney’s written statements. The information could be obtained through separately conducted interviews with the attorney and the survivors.

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