Drummond v. Stahl, No. 1

CourtCourt of Appeals of Arizona
Writing for the CourtOGG; CONTRERAS, P. J., and JACOBSON
Citation618 P.2d 616,127 Ariz. 122
PartiesWilliam H. DRUMMOND, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Louis A. STAHL and Jane Doe Stahl, husband and wife, and Streich, Lang, Weeks, Cardon and French, a Professional Association, Defendants-Appellees. 4531.
Decision Date19 August 1980
Docket NumberNo. 1,CA-CIV

Page 616

618 P.2d 616
127 Ariz. 122
William H. DRUMMOND, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Louis A. STAHL and Jane Doe Stahl, husband and wife, and Streich, Lang, Weeks, Cardon and French, a Professional Association, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 1 CA-CIV 4531.
Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division 1, Department C.
Aug. 19, 1980.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 24, 1980.
Review Denied Oct. 15, 1980.

[127 Ariz. 123]

Page 617

Kunz & Waugh, Ltd., by Donald R. Kunz, Phoenix, for plaintiff-appellant.

Lewis and Roca by John P. Frank, Walter Cheifetz, Thomas C. Horne, Phoenix, for defendants-appellees.

O'Connor, Cavanagh, Anderson, Westover, Killingsworth & Beshears by John H. Westover, Phoenix, amicus curiae.

OPINION

OGG, Chief Judge, Division 1.

The appellant/plaintiff, William H. Drummond, brought suit in the Maricopa County Superior Court alleging a tortious interference by the appellees/defendants with an attorney-client contractual relationship of which Drummond, as a practicing member of the State Bar of Arizona, was the beneficiary. Drummond asserts the elements of such a cause of action are set forth in the case of Middleton v. Wallich's Music & Entertainment Company, Inc., 24 Ariz.App. 180, 536 P.2d 1072 (1975). The defendant, Louis A. Stahl, is also a practicing member of the State Bar of Arizona. The remaining defendants are Stahl's law firm, a professional association, and his wife. After all pleadings were filed, the trial judge granted defendants' motion for summary judgment and plaintiff filed this appeal. The State Bar of Arizona was granted permission by this court to file an Amicus Curiae brief and participate in oral argument of this appeal.

Drummond sets out the two threshold issues to be determined as:

1. Are Stahl and his law firm "absolutely privileged" to institute disqualification proceedings in the trial court to prevent Drummond's further participation in pending civil litigation?

2. Are Stahl and his law firm "absolutely privileged" under the facts of this case to file charges of unethical conduct against Drummond with the State Bar of Arizona?

In this appellate review of the summary judgment, we must view the evidence and the inferences to be drawn therefrom in a light most favorable to the appellant. Poggi v. Kates, 115 Ariz. 157, 564 P.2d 380

Page 618

[127 Ariz. 124] (1977); Riedisser v. Nelson, 111 Ariz. 542, 534 P.2d 1052 (1975). Viewing the evidence in such a manner, it appears that Drummond was hired as a patent attorney by Walter C. Avrea and had a contractual attorney-client relationship with Avrea dating back to 1965. Drummond also represented both Avrea and a corporation, known as Saf-Gard Systems, Inc., in protecting Avrea's inventions which were licensed to Saf-Gard, and in certain other patent infringement actions where Avrea and Saf-Gard had similar interests. Drummond's representation of both Avrea and Saf-Gard was undertaken only after the possibility of a future conflict of interest was discussed by all parties and their attorneys. It was determined there was no conflict of interest in these limited areas, and if a conflict of interest did arise between Avrea and Saf-Gard, that Drummond would continue to represent his old client, Avrea.

On February 25, 1976, Drummond filed a Maricopa County Superior Court action on behalf of Avrea and others against Saf-Gard and others. On May 13, 1976, Stahl, representing Saf-Gard, notified Drummond's office by a hand-delivered letter that Drummond must withdraw as Avrea's attorney on the ground of a conflict of interest with Saf-Gard. The letter further notified Drummond that unless he withdrew from the litigation, Stahl would file charges of unethical conduct against him with the State Bar of Arizona. According to Stahl's affidavit, this letter had been prompted by notification to Stahl by Saf-Gard that Drummond had previously represented Saf-Gard and possessed confidential information that would be detrimental to Saf-Gard in the pending litigation with Avrea.

Before responding to Stahl's letter, Drummond filed a complaint against Stahl with the State Bar of Arizona and enclosed a copy of such complaint along with his reply letter which stated:

"If you want to go ahead and file the complaint, be my guest. However, if you have any interest in confirming whether you have all of the facts, please call me and we can arrange a time for you to confer with me before taking precipitous action."

When Drummond failed to withdraw as requested, Stahl did not further contact Drummond, but proceeded to file a complaint with the State Bar of Arizona. Stahl also filed a superior court motion to compel Drummond to withdraw from the pending Avrea v. Saf-Gard litigation. Thereafter Drummond withdrew from representing Saf-Gard in two pending patent infringement actions against third parties, while continuing his representation of Avrea.

While the Stahl complaint was pending, Drummond was requested by Saf-Gard to perform certain patent services in other cases...

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45 practice notes
  • Practice and procedure: Patent and trademark cases rules of practice; representation of others before Patent and Trademark Office,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...that a complainant has absolute immunity for filing a complaint regardless of the outcome of the proceeding. See Drummond v. Stahl, 127 Ariz. 122, 618 P.2d 616 (Ct. App. Div 1 1980), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 967, 101 S.Ct. 1484, 67 L. Ed. 2d 616 (1981); Katz v. Rosen, 48 Cal. App. 3d 1032, 12......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...that a complainant has absolute immunity for filing a complaint regardless of the outcome of the proceeding. See Drummond v. Stahl, 127 Ariz. 122, 618 P.2d 616 (Ct. App. Div 1 1980), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 967, 101 S.Ct. 1484, 67 L. Ed. 2d 616 (1981); Katz v. Rosen, 48 Cal. App. 3d 1032, 12......
  • Donahoe v. Arpaio, No. CV10-2756-PHX-NVW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • April 9, 2012
    ...absolutely privileged conduct, and no civil action predicated thereon may be instituted against any complainant[.]"); Drummond v. Stahl, 127 Ariz. 122, 126 (Ct. App. 1980) (explaining that anyone who makes a complaint to the State BarPage 37for an attorney's unethical conduct is absolutely ......
  • Kozel v. Kozel, Civil Action No.: 7:16–cv–01672–JMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 8, 2018
    ...a judicial proceeding are protected "so long as such statements bear some relationship to the proceeding.") (citing Drummond v. Stahl , 127 Ariz. 122, 618 P.2d 616, 620 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1980), cert. denied , 450 U.S. 967, 101 S.Ct. 1484, 67 L.Ed.2d 616 (1981) ); Crowell, 392 S.E.2d at 466–67......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
43 cases
  • Donahoe v. Arpaio, No. CV10-2756-PHX-NVW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • April 9, 2012
    ...absolutely privileged conduct, and no civil action predicated thereon may be instituted against any complainant[.]"); Drummond v. Stahl, 127 Ariz. 122, 126 (Ct. App. 1980) (explaining that anyone who makes a complaint to the State BarPage 37for an attorney's unethical conduct is absolutely ......
  • Kozel v. Kozel, Civil Action No.: 7:16–cv–01672–JMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 8, 2018
    ...a judicial proceeding are protected "so long as such statements bear some relationship to the proceeding.") (citing Drummond v. Stahl , 127 Ariz. 122, 618 P.2d 616, 620 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1980), cert. denied , 450 U.S. 967, 101 S.Ct. 1484, 67 L.Ed.2d 616 (1981) ); Crowell, 392 S.E.2d at 466–67......
  • Goldman v. Sahl, No. 1 CA-CV 18-0687
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • March 5, 2020
    ...perceived unethical conduct." Ashton-Blair v. Merrill , 187 Ariz. 315, 317, 928 P.2d 1244, 1246 (App. 1996) (citing Drummond v. Stahl , 127 Ariz. 122, 126, 618 P.2d 616, 620 (App. 1980) ). But a court cannot "create" a privilege or immunity for public policy purposes, it may only consider p......
  • Donahoe v. Arpaio, No. CV10–2756–PHX–NVW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • April 9, 2012
    ...absolutely privileged conduct, and no civil action predicated thereon may be instituted against any complainant[.]”); Drummond v. Stahl, 127 Ariz. 122, 126, 618 P.2d 616 (Ct.App.1980) (explaining that anyone who makes a complaint to the State Bar for an attorney's unethical conduct is absol......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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