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Summaries and analysis of recent Delaware court decisions concerning business-related litigation.

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Supreme Court Clarifies Inspection Rights

Espinoza v. Hewlett-Packard Company, C.A. 208, 2011 (November 21, 2011) This decision clarifies the scope of the right to inspect a company's records to investigate allegations of wrongdoing.  The decision is somewhat unique because it also raised issues of attorney-client privilege and work product protection that the Supreme Court did not need to decide. Briefly, a document may be subject to inspection when it is "essential" to accomplish the purpose of the inspection.  That in turn means the document must address the issue involved, such as the alleged wrongdoing, and not just be information otherwise made available to the inspector. Obviously, this is a fact intensive test.  In this case, for example, the information sought was contained in other documents provided and the document sought did not really add much to the mix of information addressing the key question the stockholder wanted to investigate.