Cassel v. Superior Court, S178914
Challenge to evidentiary ruling regarding private attorney-client discussions in an underlying mediation in client's legal malpractice action Cassel v. Superior Court, S178914
, concerned a challenge to the the court of appeals' judgment vacating the trial court's grant of
defendant attorneys motion to exclude all evidence of private
attorney-client discussions immediately preceding, and during, the
mediation concerning mediation settlement strategies and defendants'
efforts to persuade plaintiff to reach a settlement in the mediation, in plaintiff's malpractice action against his attorneys, claiming that by bad advice, deception, and coercion, the attorneys, who has a conflict of interest, induced him to settle for a lower amount than he had told them he would accept in the underlying action.
In reversing the judgment, the court held that the result reached by the
court of appeals contravenes the Legislature's explicit command that,
unless the confidentiality of a particular communicative is expressly
waived, under statutory procedures, by all mediation "participants," or
at least by all those "participants" by or for whom it was prepared,
things said or written for the purpose of and pursuant to a mediation
shall be inadmissible in any civil action. The court also held that, as
the statutes make clear, confidentiality, unless waived, extends beyond
utterances or writings in the course of a mediation, and thus is not
confined to communications that occur between mediation disputants
during the mediation proceeding itself, and by holding otherwise, and
overturning the trial court's exclusionary order, the court of appeal
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