Insurers Compelled to Produce Internal Attorney Communications and Claims Policies
Last week, Judge Martinez compelled two different insurers to produce discovery. First, in Panattoni Construction, Inc. v. Travelers Prop. & Cas. Co. of America, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178273 (.pdf), the Court narrowly applied the attorney-client privilege to internal emails between Travelers claims employees and in-house counsel, finding that all of the communications were discoverable except for one email that included substantive legal advice.
Second, in Bayley Construction v. Wausau Business Ins. Co. 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177559 (.pdf), the Court rejected Wausau Business Insurance Company's objections to the insured's Rule 30(b)(6) notice requesting testimony from an insurer representative on the underwriting file for the policy at issue and the names and "dollar level authority" of the claims employees whose authority was necessary to deny a claim like the one at issue. Judge Martinez reasoned that the underwriting file information is discoverable not only because it is relevant to Plaintiff's claims for denial of coverage but . . . also discoverable because it appears reasonable that the information contained in the file may lead to the discovery of other admissible evidence."
In both cases, Judge Martinez indicated a willingness to award attorney's fees in favor of the insured.