What if?

The Town of Kittery recently sold the former Dineen property at 3 Walker Ave. If you read the puff piece in the Portsmouth Herald, you will see that it was sold by the Town, after years of legal proceedings. The new owner, as seen in the Herald pictures, shows heaps of paperwork and litter throughout. The previous owner, James Dineen, a local attorney, and son of another well-known local attorney, Mr.William Dineen, had practiced law in that building for decades.
One may only wonder what sort of paperwork was left behind in that litter. It was an active law office for decades. Could it be that it was legal documents generated by the Dineens regarding clients? Was any of it generated under Lawyer-Client confidentiality?

After all, for decades these two people practiced law and this was their office.
Rule 1.6 – CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION(a) A lawyer shall not reveal a confidence or secret of a client unless, (i) the client gives informed consent; (ii) the lawyer reasonably believes that disclosure is authorized in order to carry out the representation; or (iii) the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).(A communication is “confidential” if it is made to facilitate the provision of legal services to the client and is not intended to be disclosed to any third party other than those to whom the client revealed the information in the process of obtaining professional legal services).

Maine Law is also specific regarding the length of time a lawyer needs to keep paperwork, but if this litter was legal documents such as private matters, divorce proceedings, trusts, criminal defense matters and or PII and a slew of other confidential documents, who is required to protect them. According to the article by the Portsmouth Herald investigative reporter, there was no mention as to what the documents were
that were left behind.

Let’s not forget the Town owned the property and contents as a result of a foreclosure.
Who is responsible? (Dineen, the Town of Kittery, or the new owners is there were legal papers let behind.)
Clients of Dineen’s should be gravely concerned that their legal history, cases, legal documents, statements, potential HIPPA issues and other findings and or other personal documents may have been left to the new owners. Although it could be discarded in the trash, one must question what legal requirement did the Town of Kittery have, if there were confidential documents inside the office? That brings me to the point, the Town of Kittery owned that building:
1, Are they required to protect any and all confidential information?
2. Would vicarious liability kick in? If someone’s personal information from the office gets out, is the Town of Kittery culpable for failing to secure it?
3. Are the new owners required to safeguard, shred, or destroy it: or, does it fall directly back to the original owners?
This opens a great legal question. What IF private matters were left behind in the DINEEN Lawyers office building and now are accessible to anyone, may be thrown out, discarded or allowed to be reviewed by anyone. Should the public know what was inside. It could be just trash, but without transparency, will we ever know if there was confidential papers or documents left behind, how should it be protected, destroyed, should people be notified of a potential breech?
If you have used the services of Dineen’s Lawyers practice, I would be concerned.