San Diego Professional Ass'n v. Superior Court of San Diego County

Decision Date19 July 1962
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 373 P.2d 448, 97 A.L.R.2d 761 SAN DIEGO PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION, Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Respondent; PADEREWSKI, MITCHELL, DEAN & ASSOCIATES, Real Party in Interest. L. A. 26721.

Page 384

23 Cal.Rptr. 384
58 Cal.2d 194, 373 P.2d 448, 97 A.L.R.2d 761
L. A. 26721.
Supreme Court of California, In Bank.
July 19, 1962.

Page 385

[373 P.2d 449] [58 Cal.2d 197] Hillyer, Crake & Irwin and Oscar F. Irwin, San Diego, for petitioner.

No appearance for respondent.

Kaminar, Sorbo, Andreen, Thorn & Gallagher and Francis E. Gallagher, San Diego, for real party in interest.

PETERS, Justice.

Petitioner hired the real party in interest, a firm of architects, to prepare plans for and to supervise the construction of a medical office building on petitioner's real property. After completion of the building, the real party filed a mechanic's lien, and subsequently filed an action for foreclosure of that lien, alleging that $11,032.51 was still due for their services. Petitioner answered, and cross complained, alleging two causes of action. The first was based on the claimed malpractice of plaintiff in improperly designing and planning the building. The second alleged breach of contract to perform the architectual services. In the course of preparing for trial, petitioner's attorney (representing defendant and cross complainant) retained a firm of engineers to make a study of all the documents involved in the alleged deficiencies, and to analyze the same with reference to the portions of the building alleged to have been imporperly designed or constructed. Upon completing such study, the engineers prepared and delivered a report of their findings to the attorney. While this report was in the hands of petitioner's attorney, the real party (as plaintiff and cross defendant) filed a motion for an order requiring production, inspection and copying of '(a)ll reports of engineering or scientific experts which discuss alleged defects in the construction of the medical building * * * and in particular a one hundred [58 Cal.2d 198] page report from a Los Angeles engineering firm including diagrams, photographs and mathematical computations discussing alleged defects in said building.'

Page 386

[373 P.2d 450] Declarations were filed in support of and in opposition to the motion, and, after hearing, the trial court made a written order granting inspection with certain restrictions and limitations. 1 That order contained a recital of matters referred to as 'findings,' which included: (1) the documents described in the motion were prepared by engineers, at the request of defendant's attorney, for the purpose of trial preparation and with the intent of using such engineers as expert witnesses; (2) the report was not a communication from defendant to its counsel, and by reason of such fact is not privileged; 2 (3) defendant did not consent to plaintiff's examination of the report; 3 (4) 'Defendants (sic) have no legal right to withhold said report * * * on the grounds that * * * (it) constitutes part of Defendants' (sic) counsel's work-papers;' 4 (5) defendant having expended more than $4,000 for the report, it is proper for the court to impose such terms in that regard as justice may require. The order provided, among other things, that: (1) defendant make the engineering report available to plaintiff for inspection, copying or photographing; (2) should defendant desire to take the depositions of plaintiff, its agents or representatives, and use the engineering report for that purpose, it might do so prior to delivering the report for inspection, but within a time limit set forth in the order; (3) plaintiff and cross defendant pay to defendant and cross complaint, for the use of the report, a sum of money to be determined by the court at time of trial.

Inasmuch as the case presented an important problem of first impression in the field of discovery, this court issued an alternative writ of prohibition to review the propriety of the trial court's order. In support of its position, petitioner [58 Cal.2d 199] makes the single contention that the report itself was and is privileged under the attorney-client privilege. It specifically concedes that the names of the engineers who prepared the report are discoverable, and that the real party would have the right to take the engineers' depositions. Thus, superficially, it appears that the sole issue involved is whether or not a report rendered under these circumstances is, as a matter of law, a confidential communication from client to attorney. But the arguments made in support of the claim of privilege (together with the fact that the trial court made a specific finding negativeing the fact) indicate the further contention that discovery should be denied because the report is the work product of the attorney.

The attorney-client privilege:

The client did not directly order this report, because it was prepared by the expert at the request of, and delivered to, the attorney. This fact, however, as petitioner correctly argues, does not prevent application of the attorney-client privilege if the circumstances indicate that the expert was retained to examine the client or the client's confidential affairs for the purpose of discovering (and reporting to the attorney) technical data which the layman is incapable of discovering, or which the layman cannot express in the proper technical language. This problem was discussed in Suezaki v. Superior Court, Cal., 23 Cal.Rptr. 368, 373 P.2d 432 and in Oceanside Union

Page 387

[373 P.2d 451] School District v. Superior Court, Cal., 23 Cal.Rptr. 375, 373 P.2d 439. But this principle of law is not necessarily here applicable. The burden of establishing that a particular matter is privileged is on the party asserting that privilege (Chronicle Pub. Co. v. Superior Court, 54 Cal.2d 548, 565, 7 Cal.Rptr. 109, 354 P.2d 637, and cases cited therein). In an attempt to sustain this burden the objecting party filed two declarations.

The first declaration, after briefly setting forth the issues of the case, stated: 'In order to prepare for the trial of the above action it was, in the opinion of * * * (defendant's attorney) necessary to make a thorough study of all contract documents involved in connection with the above specified deficiencies and...

To continue reading

Request your trial
43 cases
  • People By and Through Dept. of Public Works v. Glen Arms Estate, Inc.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 23 Noviembre 1964
    ...Co. v. Superior Court (1960), 54 Cal.2d 548, 565, 7 Cal.Rptr. 109, 354 P.2d 637; San Diego Professional Ass'n. v. Superior Court (1962), 58 Cal.2d 194, 199, 23 Cal.Rptr. 384, 373 P.2d 448, 97 A.L.R.2d 761; D. I. Chadbourne, Inc. v. Superior Court (1964), 60 Cal.2d 723, 729, 36 Cal.Rptr. 468......
  • Bunker Hill Urban Renewal Project 1B of CommunityRedevelopment Agency of City of Los Angeles, In re
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • 27 Febrero 1964
    ... ... L. A. 26751 ... Supreme Court of California ... Feb. 27, 1964 ... appeal is from judgments rendered by the superior Court in a special proceeding ... [389 P.2d ... the council caused to be filed with the county recorder a description of the land [61 Cal.2d 35] ... 375, 373 P.2d 439; and San Diego Professional Assn. v. Superior Court (1962) 58 ... ...
  • Bp Alaska Exploration, Inc. v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 29 Marzo 1988
    ...Suezaki v. Superior Court (1962) 58 Cal.2d 166, 177-178, 23 Cal.Rptr. 368, 373 P.2d 432; San Diego Professional Assn. v. Superior Court (1962) 58 Cal.2d 194, 204-205, 23 Cal.Rptr. 384, 373 P.2d 448; Oceanside Union School Dist. v. Superior Court (1962) 58 Cal.2d 180, 192-193, 23 Cal.Rptr. 3......
  • Maldonado v. the Superior Court of San Mateo County
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 11 Agosto 2010
    ...entertain writ petitions that raise claims of attorney-client or work product privilege ( San Diego Professional Assn. v. Superior Court (1962) 58 Cal.2d 194, 198-199, 23 Cal.Rptr. 384, 373 P.2d 448; Mitchell v. Superior Court (1984) 37 Cal.3d 591, 594-595, 208 Cal.Rptr. 886, 691 P.2d 642; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT