In-House Counsel

Gucci’s Perceptions About Inactive-Status GC Don’t Help Privilege Claim

Gucci America’s mistaken belief that its former top lawyer had an active license to practice law isn’t enough to shield documents from discovery based on attorney-client privilege, a magistrate judge has ruled.

Magistrate Judge James Cott of New York City denied Gucci’s motion for a protective order Tuesday, the New York Law Journal reports.

Gucci is seeking to prevent disclosure of documents prepared by former chief in-house counsel Jonathan Moss in a trademark infringement suit it has filed against Guess. Gucci fired Moss in March after learning that he had been on inactive status with the California bar since beginning work in the company’s legal department in 2003.

Cott said Gucci could have checked Moss’ bar status, but it failed to do so. “Gucci cannot now cloak itself under a veil of ignorance to avoid its discovery obligations,” he wrote in the opinion (PDF posted by the New York Law Journal).

Cott asked for additional briefs on whether the work-product doctrine protects any of the documents at issue, the story says.

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