August 5, 2020

Volume X, Number 218

August 04, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

August 03, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Life Insurer Compelled to Produce Attorney-Client Communications

A federal district court in Ohio concluded that internal communications between a plan administrator and in-house counsel about a beneficiary’s first-level benefit claim remained protected by the attorney-client privilege, and that ERISA’s fiduciary exception to the attorney client privilege did not apply. In so ruling, the court explained that once the beneficiary’s counsel submitted a “strongly worded, evidence-based letter along with [a doctor’s] opinion letter, [defendant] faced more than a mere possibility of future litigation if it continued to deny benefits,” and thus the relationship was clearly adversarial and litigation was a near-certainty. The court did, however, compel the production of communications between the plan administrator and in-house counsel before and after the initial claim denial, but only up to the point when the beneficiary’s counsel submitted the “strongly worded, evidence-based letter.” The case is Charlie Duncan, Ex’r of the Estate Of Paul W. McVay, et al. v. Minnesota Life Ins. Co., No. 17-cv-25, 2019 WL 3000692 (S.D. Ohio July 10, 2019).

© 2020 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 219


About this Author

Neil Shah, Proskauer Rose, Labor Rights Lawyer, ERISA Litigation Attorney,

Neil Shah is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation Practice Center.

Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, J.D., 2009


cum laude

Order of the Coif

Managing Editor, Rutgers Law Review

Dean's Merit Scholarship


New York University, College of Arts & Science, B.A., 2006...