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San Jose sues Pillsbury Winthrop over confidential documents

California city accidentally gave docs to law firm, which now refuses to return them

Asking nicely doesn’t seem to be working for San Jose, Calif., so the city is taking it to the next level—filing suit against Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, claiming the law firm refuses to give back confidential documents the city accidentally handed over.

Between December 2011 and June, San Jose released various documents to the firm in accordance with the California Public Records Act. But in August, the city realized those documents contained 11 email chains with information that was confidential, such as attorney-client privileged communication. City officials requested, via letters, phone calls and emails, that the confidential documents be returned to San Jose. The law firm has refused.

Last week, San Jose asked the Santa Clara County Superior Court to force Pillsbury to return the documents and to prevent it from distributing the confidential information. The court responded Friday morning by issuing a temporary order preventing the firm from disclosing or using the documents. The court also set a hearing for the case on Nov. 6.

According to Thomson Reuters, the reasons Pillsbury will not return the documents to San Jose are unclear.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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