Behunin v. Superior CourtAnnotate this Case
Nicholas Behunin filed suit against Charles Schwab and his son Michael Schwab over an unsuccessful real estate investment deal. Behunin's attorneys, Leonard Steiner and Steiner & Libo, engaged a public relations consultant, Levick Strategic Communications, to create a website containing information linking the Schwabs and their real estate investments in Indonesia to the family of former Indonesian dictator Suharto. Charles Schwab filed suit against Behunin for libel and Michael Schwab filed suit against Behunin for libel, slander, and invasion of privacy. Behunin filed a special motion to strike under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. At issue was whether the communications among Behunin, Steiner, and Levick were confidential, attorney-client privileged communications and whether disclosure to Levick waived the privilege. The court concluded that, although in some circumstances the attorney-client privilege may extend to communications with a public relations consultant, it did not do so in this case because Behunin failed to prove the disclosure of the communications to Levick was reasonably necessary for Steiner's representation of Behunin in his lawsuit against the Schwabs. Accordingly, the court denied Behunin's petition for a writ of mandate.