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Wesp v. Everson
Colorado Supreme Court
33 P.3d 191 (2001)
Heather Wesp (plaintiff) sued her mother and stepfather, Cheryl and Frank Brewer (defendants), for damages caused by Frank sexually abusing Wesp as a child. For the related criminal charges, Frank hired attorney Paul Prendergast. Prendergast and Frank typically met alone. However, Prendergast had one joint meeting with both Brewers. Later, the Brewers both committed suicide. In a suicide note, Cheryl said that Prendergast had told them that Wesp’s allegations would be hard to disprove and that Frank should take an offered plea deal on the criminal charges. Wesp’s civil lawsuit continued against the Brewers’ estates (defendants), and Wesp tried to depose Prendergast about his communications with Frank. Prendergast refused to answer, claiming that the communications were protected by the attorney-client privilege. The trial court ruled that the communications were not privileged because (1) Cheryl’s note disclosing some attorney-client communications had waived any privilege, (2) Frank’s death ended the privilege, (3) the testamentary exception might apply, and (4) protecting the communications would cause manifest injustice. The estates sought an immediate review of the ruling to prevent the disclosure of privileged information. On appeal, all parties agreed that the joint-meeting communications were not privileged because Cheryl was present.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bender, J.)
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