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Admission of the evidence is favored unless some special reason not to admit it exists. Four factors are identified to consider when determining admissibility: number and nature of contacts of the forum with the parties or transaction, materiality of the evidence, kind of privilege, and fairness to the parties. The forum will be more inclined to give effect to a foreign privilege that is well established and recognized in many states, if the privilege was probably relied upon by the parties.
In the underlying products liability suit, parties sought damages from relator motor company for a death allegedly caused by rollover of a vehicle. The parties sought discovery of an internal report by relator's general counsel, technical data prepared by relator, and amounts paid in settling other rollover lawsuits. The trial court ordered relator to produce the documents and answer interrogatories on settlement amounts. Relator filed for a writ of mandamus, contending that the documents and data were protected by the attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine, and settlement amounts were not relevant.
Under the circumstances, should the writ of mandamus be granted?
The court granted a conditional writ of mandamus. As Michigan was the state where the communications took place, the court applied that state's law on attorney-client privilege and found that the documents were privileged. The court held that the settlement agreements were not relevant and thus not subject to discovery. The court directed the trial court to vacate its order, indicating it would grant a mandamus writ if the trial court failed to do so.