Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiffs challenge sanctions imposed on them for ex parte communication with some of Defendant’s employees during the course of a gender discrimination suit.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The “no-contact rule” regarding communication with an opposing party’s employees only applies to those employees with “authority to commit the organization regarding the subject matter of representation.”
In litigation involving corporations, Rule 4.2 applies to only those employees who have the legal authority to bind a corporation in a legal evidentiary sense, i.e., those employees who have speaking authority for the corporation.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Was Plaintiff’s communication with Defendant’s employees a violation of Rule 4.2 under these circumstances?
Held. No. The court offers a new interpretation of the rule such that only ex parte contact with employees with the authority to “commit the organization to a position regarding the subject matter of representation” would constitute a violation of the Rule. These employees did not have that authority, and the contact was not inappropriate. Reversed.
Discussion. Many jurisdictions still link the “no-contact rule” with the evidentiary principle of party admissions, a theory explicitly rejected by the Supreme Judicial Court in this case.