Opinion 93-14
(July 1993)

Your client, while in the scope of his employment, was injured in a car accident. You indicate that the worker's compensation carrier provides primary coverage in this situation. When that carrier refused payment of your client's medical bills, you referred the matter to another attorney to handle. The third party claim you were handling for the client was settled and distribution to the client made in January of 1993.

You have recently been informed by the worker's compensation counsel that at a meeting with the client in preparation for testimony before the Worker's Compensation Referee, that some of the visits to one of the medical providers were inaccurate, in that the client indicated he did not appear at the provider's office for treatment the number of times indicated in the medical records. As a result, the worker's compensation hearing was continued.

You ask if you, as an attorney, who has completed representation of a client is obligated to take any action with respect to the discrepancy in the medical provider's records. You indicate that it does not appear that your client had any knowledge of the inaccuracy of the records prior to preparation of the worker's compensation hearing.

Recently, in Opinion 93-6, this committee addressed a similar question, and that opinion is attached. In this present inquiry, the Committee assumes that neither you nor your client participated in the production of, or had knowledge of the fact that some of the medical bills were inaccurate.

The threshold question in this matter, which might possibly distinguish itself from Opinion 93-6, is the fact that you have discovered the information after the matter in which you represented the client has been concluded. A question arises as to whether the information you received is nevertheless confidential. In this regard Rule l.6d provides that:

The duty not to reveal information relating to representation of a client continues after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated.

The comment to Rule 1.6 provides in part that:

The confidentiality rule applies not merely to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source.

In the matter at hand, although you just found out about the inaccurate bills, they were still relevant to the matter in which you represented the client and the Committee assumes, that as usual, the bills formed part of the basis for determining the amount of the eventual settlement. As such, the Committee is of the opinion that the knowledge you now have about the bills is confidential. Furthermore, since you indicate your client has not engaged in fraudulent conduct, none of the exceptions to confidentiality contained in Rule l.6c would apply. As such, without your client's consent, you cannot disclose the information you have discovered, and are obligated to keep it confidential.

   

The Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee provides, upon request, advice for lawyers facing or anticipating facing ethical dilemmas. Advice is based on the consideration of the facts of the particular inquirer's situation and the Rules of Professional Conduct as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Committee's opinions are advisory only and are based upon the facts set forth. The opinions are not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. They carry only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.