Does the Opinion Work Product Doctrine Protect the Identity of Particular Witnesses a Party has Chosen to Interview?

March 28, 2007

Most courts extend opinion work product protection to a litigant’s selection of specific important documents out of a larger universe of documents equally available to the adversary. However, courts have debated the application of this doctrine (called the “Sporck” doctrine) to the identity of witnesses a litigant chooses to interview.

In Kidder v. Tidewater Marine, LLC, Civ. A. No. 05-1152, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1232 (W.D. La. Jan. 5, 2007), the plaintiff asked the defendants in an interrogatory to identify the witnesses they had interviewed. The court rejected defendants’ argument that the list would provide insight into their trial strategy. The court explained that “[n]ot all persons interviewed by defendants were necessarily important to the case — some interviews may have provided significant information to defendants, some may not have.” Id. at *6.

Not all courts agree with this narrow application of the “Sporck” doctrine.