Not surprisingly, her lawyer went berserk (which, when a lawyer does it, is called applying for an order to show cause) and said that Loving Care's attorney should have treated the emails as privileged and returned them once they were discovered. Loving Care's attorney disagreed, and, on March 30, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a comprehensive opinion (which can be found here) stating that Loving Care's attorney should have treated the emails as privileged and remanding to the trial court to determine an appropriate sanction.
Some interesting points from the opinion:
1) The Court said that Loving Care's policy regarding personal emails received on company machines was not entirely clear. However
Because of the important policy concerns underlying the attorney-client privilege, even a more clearly written company manual -- that is, a policy that banned all personal computer use and provided unambiguous notice that an employer could retrieve and read an employee's attorney-client communications, if accessed on a personal, password protected e-mail account using the company's computer system -- would not be enforceable.
2) The fact that Ms. Stengart was technically unsophisticated and didn't know that her computer automatically cached documents contributed to her having a reasonable subjective expectation of privacy in the emails. If she had been more technically savvy, the Court may not have decided the emails were protected (though, given the policy considerations surrounding the privilege, I wouldn't bet on it).
3) Even though it wasn't searching for privileged materials, once it found that it had emails that were potentially privileged, Loving Care's law firm had a duty not to read them, and to report them to Stengart's lawyer. Because Loving Care's firm didn't do that, they could be disqualified and/or forced to pay Stengart's costs (or face whatever other sanctions the trial court deems appropriate).
An interesting case, and a result I'm sure was an unpleasant surprise to Loving Care.
via this article from Computer World.