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Edwards v. Edwards

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Portage

December 31, 2019

WALTER EDWARDS, JR., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
BRIDGET EDWARDS, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

          Civil Appeal from the Portage County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2017 CV 00996.

         Judgment: Affirmed in part and reversed in part; remanded.

          Craig P. Kvale, Kvale Antonelli & Raj, (For Plaintiffs-Appellees).

          Mark S. Hura, The Cincinnati Insurance Co., and Matthew S. Romano, Law Office of Matthew S. Romano, LLC, (For Defendants-Appellants).

          OPINION

          TIMOTHY P. CANNON, J.

         {¶1} Appellants, Bridget Edwards and her spouse, Walter Edwards, Sr. ("Walter Sr."), appeal from the March 22, 2019 judgment entry of the Portage County Court of Common Pleas ordering them to disclose documents following a motion to compel discovery. The narrow issues before this court are whether appellants' will, trust, and estate planning documents are protected by the attorney-client privilege, and, if so, whether that privilege has been waived. We affirm in part and reverse in part the trial court's judgment.

         {¶2} Appellees, Walter Edwards, Jr. ("Walter Jr.") and his spouse, Molly Edwards, filed a civil action against Appellant Bridget Edwards for (1) defamation; (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (3) undue influence; (4) making false police reports; (5) intentional interference with expectancy of inheritance; (6) frivolous conduct; and (7) abuse of process. Appellant Walter Sr. successfully intervened in the matter, and appellants filed counterclaims for (1) identity fraud and/or civil theft; (2) breach of fiduciary duty; (3) common law fraud; (4) unjust enrichment; (5) declaratory judgment; and (6) injunctive relief.

         {¶3} After engaging in discovery, each side filed motions to compel production of various discovery requests with the trial court, as well as other associated motions. No depositions have been taken, and the present appeal challenges only one determination of the trial court.

         {¶4} The trial court granted appellees' motion to compel with regard to production of appellants' wills, trusts, and estate planning documents. The following requests and responses were the subject of the trial court's ruling:

REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS NO. 19: Copies of any and all wills and/or trusts wherein you are named and/or wherein you are given any beneficial interest and/or wherein you are named as the testator, trustee and/or executor, including, but not limited to, the wills and/or trusts of any relatives.
RESPONSE: Objection. In addition to the General Objections set forth above, Defendants specifically object to this Request on the grounds that it is vague and ambiguous, unduly burdensome and overly broad, and is seeking information that is protected by the attorney-client privilege and/or work product doctrine, and is confidential and proprietary in nature.
REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS NO. 34: Any and all copies and drafts of the "will" and "trust" identified in Paragraph 38 of the Counterclaim.
RESPONSE: Objection. In addition to the General Objections set forth above, and without waiving them, Defendants specifically object to this Request on the grounds that it is seeking information that is protected by the attorney-client privilege and/or work product doctrine.
REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS NO. 35: Any and all documents supporting your contention that "the percentage of Walt Jr.'s inheritance was never changed from what it was before the events he alleges against Bridget in his Complaint" as alleged in Paragraph 43 of the Counterclaim.
RESPONSE: Objection. In addition to the General Objections set forth above, and without waiving them, Defendants specifically object to this Request on the grounds that it is seeking information that is protected by the attorney-client privilege and/or work product doctrine.
REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS NO. 36: All documents supporting your contention that "no contest" provisions were included in "every trust and estate document Walt Sr. has executed" as alleged in Paragraph ...

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