A judge ruled that emails exchanged between former Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Carmelo Garcia and his attorney, Louis Zayas, on the HHA server will not be released in their conspiracy/breach of contract case against Mayor Dawn Zimmer, her husband and the agency.
Garcia filed suit back in October 27 of last year, alleging that Zimmer and her husband Stan Grossbard conspired to have him fired from the HHA – and that the way he was terminated back in August 2014 was a breach of contract.
Thomas Abbate, the attorney representing the HHA, said there wasn’t much discussion necessary since the HHA owns the emails – based on Garcia’s own policy.
Victor Afanador, the attorney representing Zimmer and Grossbard, admitted that although he presently knows nothing about the emails between Garcia and Zayas, they are important to finding out “the genesis of the allegations” in the complaint, “that border on defamation.”
Afanador added that since the communications between Garcia and Zayas occurred over the HHA server, attorney-client privilege had been waived.
Judge Daniel D’Alessandro, the case judge moving forward, wanted to know if counsel felt a limited evidentiary hearing was necessary to determine if Charles Daglian, the previous attorney for the HHA, advised Garcia that all communications with his attorney would remain private.
Louis Zayas, Garcia’s attorney in the matter, argued that the case law was clear in this instance: Garcia never waived his attorney-client privilege, later stating the reason the defendants introduced the notion was to disqualify Zayas as counsel by making him a witness.
While he left the door open for releasing “string” emails, and/or any emails including third parties, D’alessandro ultimately denied the motion without prejudice after about an hour of discussion.
The reasons he gave included there being “no blanket waiver of attorney-client privilege” and that they have “no affidavit from Mr. Daglian,” who hasn’t given a deposition yet, either.
Prior to the November 3 elections, where Garcia unsuccessfully challenged Hoboken 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino for her seat on the board, emails between Grossbard and members of the HHA were leaked to the media – though only Hudson County View published any of the documents.
D’Alessandro also shot down a motion by the defendants to dismiss the complaint “for failure to make discovery, or in the alternative, fail to compel discovery” since they had themselves failed to submit a consent order.
The trial date is currently set for March 7.
D’Alessandro’s full decision regarding the release of the emails can be viewed here: