ROWU CORTEZ GUNTER, BY HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM GABRIEL ZELLER AND ROWU GUNTER, PERSONALLY, Plaintiffs,
DAVID SEAN MAHER AND LARISSA MAHER, Defendants.
in the Court of Appeals 14 February 2019.
by plaintiffs from order entered 4 January 2018 by Judge Eric
C. Morgan in Forsyth County Superior Court No. 17 CVS 4256.
Schwaba Law Firm, PLLC, by Andrew J. Schwaba and Zachary D.
Walton, for plaintiff-appellants.
Teague, Rotenstreich, Stanaland, Fox & Holt, PLLC, by
Kara V. Bordman and Steven B. Fox, for defendant-appellees.
Cortez Gunter, by and through his guardian ad litem, and his
father, Rowu Gunter, ("Plaintiffs") appeal from an
interlocutory order that compels the disclosure of the date
on which they first contacted their attorney before the
commencement of this litigation. Plaintiffs argue that this
date being sought through pre-trial discovery is protected by
attorney-client privilege, and they cannot, therefore, be
compelled to disclose it. We disagree.
and Procedural Background
23, 2015, Plaintiffs were driving west on Waughtown Street in
Winston Salem, North Carolina at that same time that David
and Larissa Maher ("Defendants") were driving east
on Waughtown Street. Defendants began a left-hand turn into a
private driveway and collided with Plaintiffs' vehicle.
result of this collision, Plaintiffs filed a complaint on
July 12, 2017 against Defendants asserting negligence claims
and seeking damages for their injuries. Defendants answered
the complaint and also served their first set of
interrogatories on Plaintiffs on September 20, 2017. In this
set of interrogatories, number 24 asked that Plaintiffs
"[s]tate the date when you first contacted an attorney
after the accident referenced in the complaint. Please note
that this request is being made pursuant to the case of
Blackmon v. Bumgardner, 135 N.C.App. 125
(1999)." Plaintiffs responded to Defendants'
interrogatories on October 31, 2017 but objected to number 24
on attorney-client privilege grounds.
filed an amended complaint on November 13, 2017, and
Defendants filed their amended answer on November 14, 2017.
Defendants then filed a motion to compel on November 20, 2017
asking the trial court to order Plaintiffs to fully respond
to their discovery requests. Plaintiffs responded to
Defendant's motion on December 14, 2017.
trial court granted Defendants' motion to compel in an
order filed January 4, 2018 that required Plaintiffs to
"provide the date when Plaintiff first contacted an
attorney after the accident referenced in the complaint
within 20 days of the entry of this order." On January
23, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their notice of appeal of the
order to compel. On January 31, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a
motion to stay the case with the trial court pending the
outcome of this appeal. The trial court granted the stay on
February 26, 2018.