Wood v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
Petitioner Christynne Lili Wrene Wood contacted the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to report alleged gender discrimination by her Crunch fitness club, which was owned and operated by CFG Jamacha, LLC and John Romeo (collectively, Crunch). After an investigation, DFEH filed a lawsuit against Crunch alleging unlawful discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression (Wood intervened as a plaintiff in the lawsuit). During discovery, Crunch requested that Wood produce all communications with DFEH relating to Crunch. As relevant here, Wood refused to produce one such communication, a prelitigation email she sent to DFEH lawyers regarding her DFEH complaint, on the grounds of attorney-client privilege. Crunch moved to compel production of the email, and the trial court granted the motion. Wood petitioned the Court of Appeal for a writ of mandate, arguing the trial court erred by overruling her objection based on the attorney-client privilege and compelling production of the email. The Court summarily denied the petition. The California Supreme Court granted review and transferred the matter back to the appellate court with directions "to vacate [our] order denying mandate and to issue an order directing the superior court to show cause why the relief sought in the petition should not be granted." The Court of Appeal issued the order to show cause as directed, and these proceedings followed. After further review, the Court concluded Wood did not show the attorney-client privilege applied to the email at issue. "DFEH lawyers have an attorney-client relationship with the State of California. Wood has not shown DFEH lawyers formed an attorney-client relationship with her. As such, any communications between Wood and DFEH lawyers were not made in the course of an attorney-client relationship and were not privileged." Therefore, the petition for mandamus relief was denied.