Is a Work Product Protected from Disclosure In Pennsylvania ?
In LaValle v. Office of General Counsel, 564 Pa. 482, 499 n.13, 769 A.2d 449, 459 n.13 (2001), the Court reemphasized its holding in McCandless and reiterated that "the party seeking to inspect government records must establish some close connection between one of the statutory categories and the material sought." LaValle, 564 Pa. at 493, 769 A.2d at 456.
The requesters in LaValle sought a report from the Office of General Counsel (Office), prepared by an accounting consultant retained by the Office in connection with litigation against the Commonwealth. Id. at 486, 769 A.2d at 451.
The Court held that, to the extent the report constitutes work product as embodied in Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 4003.3, the report would not qualify as a public record under the Law. Id. at 495, 769 A.2d at 457-58.
The Court also characterized the work product doctrine, in this context, not as an exception to the Law, but as a limitation on the definition of public record itself:
Under our interpretation, the character of the material as work product serves not as an exception to the disclosure of material which would otherwise qualify as accessible, in which case waiver principles might be pertinent, but rather, as a definitional limitation upon what would be accessible in the first instance.
The Court foud that, where records are not the type of materials within the Law's initial purview, waiver principles cannot be applied to transform them into records subject to its coverage. Id. at 500, 769 A.2d at 460.
The Court applied the definition of work product, embodied in Pa. R.C.P. No. 4003.3, which protects from disclosure:
the mental impressions of a party's attorney or his or her conclusions, opinions, memoranda, notes or summaries, legal research or legal theories.
With respect to the representative of a party other than the party's attorney, discovery shall not include disclosure of his or her mental impressions, conclusions or opinions respecting the value or merit of a claim or defense or respecting strategy or tactics. Pa. R.C.P. No. 4003.3; see also LaValle, 564 Pa. at 495, 769 A.2d at 457.