Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, L.L.P. v. Givaudan Flavors Corporation

937 N.E.2d 533 (2010)

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Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, L.L.P. v. Givaudan Flavors Corporation

Ohio Supreme Court
937 N.E.2d 533 (2010)

Facts

Givaudan Flavors Corporation (Givaudan) (defendant) hired the law firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, L.L.P. (Squire Sanders) (plaintiff) to represent Givaudan in lawsuits alleging that people had become ill after inhaling Givaudan’s popcorn-butter flavoring. Approximately four years later, Givaudan fired Squire Sanders because, according to Givaudan’s new vice president for legal affairs, Squire Sanders had inadequately handled the lawsuits and had been charging Givaudan excessive fees. Upon firing Squire Sanders, Givaudan refused to pay outstanding invoices totaling over $1,800,000. Squire Sanders sued Givaudan for breach of contract and to recover unpaid fees, and Givaudan countersued for breach of contract, malpractice, and fraud, among other claims. During discovery, Squire Sanders sought production of documents related to its representation of Givaudan, and also sought to depose Givaudan employees with knowledge of the work Squire Sanders had done. Givaudan objected on grounds that the documents, as well as the topics of the depositions, were protected by attorney-client privilege. Squire Sanders moved to compel production on grounds that the self-protection exception to the attorney-client privilege allowed production of the documents sought, and the trial court granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed the trial court, holding that Ohio’s statute did not include a self-protection exception.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (O’Donnell, J.)

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