So, if you are at work, thinking you might be fired, you might think about taking some documents home with you. Some documents might help later if you have to file suit. Taking documents from your employer is problematic conduct. Yes, the documents might help your case, but they could also give your employer a basis for suing you. In Highland Capital Management, LP v. Looper Reed & McGraw, No. 15-000055, 2016 WL 164528 (Tex.App. Dallas 2016), the employee took home some 60,000 documents. Highland Capital sued its former employee, Patrick Daugherty, for violating his employment agreement, misusing confidential information and other causes of action. While that lawsuit was still pending, it also sued Mr. Daugherty’s law firm, Looper, Reed and McGraw, accusing the law firm of everything from refusing to return those documents to using those documents to threatening to use those document if certain sums were not paid to lying to the plaintiff about the scope of those documents.
Looper Read filed a motion for summary judgment. Looper Reed relied on the attorney immunity doctrine and on the fact that Mr. Daugherty prevailed in the original lawsuit. The attorney immunity doctrine apples to suits by third parties against lawyers for action taken during the course of representation. The trial court granted summary judgment.
The Dallas Court of Appeals found that Looper Reed was indeed protected by the attorney immunity doctrine. The former employer argued that the law firm acted in a criminal, tortious way in using the documents. But, the court of appeals noted that the law firm’s use of the papers, accepting them, reviewing them, advising a client to reject a counter-demand, speaking about an opposing party in a negative light, etc. are the sort of duties required of any lawyer. So, accepting Highland Capital’s allegations as true, they still do not rise to the level of actionable conduct. See decision here.