Thursday, October 11, 2007

Zurich American Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 11, 2007)

Justice Epstein was entirely right to step in here and grant the writ petition.

It's an attorney-client privilege issue. The trial court ordered the disclosure of internal corporate documents discussing litigation strategy and the like that had been exchanged between various corporate employees, holding that unless these discussions contained essentially verbatim recitation of actual words of counsel, the attorney-client privilege didn't apply, since there was no "attorney" involved in the communication. But the Court of Appeal correctly notes that the privilege is broader than that, and includes -- pursuant to, inter alia, Section 952 of the Evidence Code -- discussions between others as well.

It takes a tiny, tiny bit of a stretch of the statutory language to hold that client-client documents like the ones at issue here may well be privileged, but I think that's nonetheless clearly the right rule.

Stylistically, by the way, I think that Justice Epstein went a little overboard here with the Control-I button. But the large number of clauses in italics are a minor complaint. He makes the right decision. Which is what really matters.