Tien v. Superior Court, 139 Cal. App. 4th 528 (2006)

In this wage and hour class action litigation against Tenet Healthcare Corporation, plaintiffs sought from Tenet the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all of the putative members of the class, which Tenet estimated to be approximately 50,000 people. The parties subsequently agreed that a neutral letter would be sent to a random sample of class members informing them of the existence of the lawsuit and providing them with contact information for plaintiffs’ lawyers if they “would like more information.” Tenet then served a set of special interrogatories on plaintiffs seeking, among other things, the names and contact information of all putative class members who had contacted plaintiffs’ counsel. Although some of the putative class members who had contacted plaintiffs’ counsel expressly consented to having their identities disclosed to Tenet, others either did not respond to the request for consent or expressly refused to give their consent. Plaintiffs’ counsel filed a writ petition challenging the trial court’s order to disclose the names and contact information of anyone who did not expressly consent to the disclosure. The Court of Appeal granted the petition and held that although disclosure of the identifying information of non-consenting putative class members was not barred by the work product doctrine or the attorney-client privilege, it would violate the individuals’ rights to privacy and on that basis ordered the trial court to grant plaintiffs’ motion for a protective order. Cf. Singh v. Superior Court, 140 Cal. App. 4th 387, 2006 WL 1586949 (June 12, 2006) (health-care employees who elected to work three 12-hour days per week are entitled to overtime only after 40 hours in a week or 12 hours in a day).