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Rojas v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County

33 Cal. 4th 407 (2004)

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Rojas v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County

California Superior Court, Los Angeles County

33 Cal. 4th 407 (2004)

Facts

In 1996, apartment-complex owner Julie Coffin (defendant) sued numerous development companies involved in constructing the complex (defendants), alleging that defects in the construction had produced toxic molds and microbes. The litigation was ultimately settled through mediation. In 1999, several hundred apartment tenants (plaintiffs) sued Coffin and the development companies, alleging that they had conspired to conceal the apartment defects and that a microbe infestation caused by the defects had led to the tenants experiencing health problems. During discovery, the tenants requested from Coffin photographs of the complex that were taken during the mediation between Coffin and the development companies. Coffin objected to the request on the ground that California Evidence Code Section 1119(b) provides that writings “prepared for the purpose of, in the course of, or pursuant to, a mediation” are neither admissible nor discoverable. The trial court denied the tenants’ request and held that the photographs were not discoverable. The intermediate court of appeals reversed the trial court and ordered Coffin to produce the requested photographs on the ground that Evidence Code Section 1120 provides that evidence that would otherwise be discoverable cannot become protected solely by using it in mediation. Coffin appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Chin, J.)

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