Yoshida's, Inc. v. Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue LLP

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Contract Law
  • Date Filed: 07-22-2015
  • Case #: A152507
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Wollheim, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 36.222, email communications are confidential and protected from admission as evidence unless an exception applies. Additionally, where no material distinction is made between an equivalent Wisconsin statute, and the mediation communications arose out of a Wisconsin case, ORS 36.222 is properly applied to prevent admission of the email communications.

Plaintiff, Yoshida's Inc., appeals a directed verdict of a breach of contract case in favor of Defendants, the law firm Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue, and the individual, Cable (collectively "Law Firm"). At trial, Yoshida's, Inc. moved to exclude from evidence e-mail communications from a mediation, citing ORS 36.222 as protective of confidential mediation materials. The trial court denied the motion based on Law Firm's argument that ORS 36.222 did not apply because the email communications were from a Wisconsin mediation, and Oregon law should not apply. Using this information to determine that no express contract existed, the trial court directed a verdict in favor of Law Firm, reasoning that Law Firm could not be held liable for breach of contract where no express contract existed. On appeal, Yoshida's, Inc. argues that the trial court erred by denying its motion to exclude evidence at the trial, and subsequently erred in ordering a directed verdict based on that information. The Court determined that Law Firm had failed to adequately distinguish between the applicability of ORS 36.222 in Oregon, and the equivalent law in Wisconsin, and therefore, without any evidence of relevant exceptions, Oregon law should apply to protect the email communications. Therefore, because the directed verdict was based on the erroneously admitted evidence, the directed verdict was in error. Reversed and remanded.

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