Catalina Island Yacht Club v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
Petitioner Catalina Island Yacht Club hosted social events for its members and also arranged for its members to dock their boats in Avalon Harbor. Real party in interest Timothy Beatty and petitioners Charles Boppell, V. Kelley York, Lowell Dreyfus, Tom Nix, and Dave Horst were members of the Yacht Club and its board of directors. In 2013, Beatty sued Petitioners, alleging they conspired to remove him from the board and suspend his membership in the Yacht Club. He alleged Petitioners defamed him by telling others that the Yacht Club removed him because he committed various acts that prejudiced “the best interests of the Club.” The complaint alleged claims for libel, slander, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Beatty served inspection demands on Petitioners seeking written communications and other documents relating to his removal from the Yacht Club’s board of directors and suspension of his membership. In early February 2014, Petitioners served written responses that included boilerplate objections based on the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine. Nearly two months later, Petitioners served a privilege log identifying 17 “communications” they withheld from production based on the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine. For each communication, the log simply provided the date of the communication and explained it was between “counsel for Defendants and Defendants.” The ultimate issue the Court of Appeal was asked to decide centered on the privilege log: the trial court found a waiver of the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine when petitioners submitted a log that failed to provide sufficient information to evaluate the claims of privilege. The trial court ordered petitioners to produce 167 e-mails identified on their privilege log because the log failed to describe the subject matter or content of the e-mails, and therefore failed to show the e-mails were protected by either the attorney-client privilege or attorney work product doctrine. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred because it exceeded its authority. "[W]hen a privilege log fails to provide a trial court with sufficient information to rule on the merits of a privilege objection, the only relief the court may grant – other than sanctions – is an order requiring a further privilege log that provides the necessary information."