Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eastern District Federal Court Addresses Discovery in a UIM Post-Koken Claim

In Borgia v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 14-3149 (E.D.Pa. Sept 3, 2014 Sanchez, J.), the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Federal Court addressed a discovery dispute in a UIM breach of contract/bad faith lawsuit arising out of the handling of an underinsured motorist claim.

The Plaintiff in this matter insured requested discovery of various materials, including reserve information and e-mails. 

The UIM carrier Defendant argued that the information was protected as work product in anticipation of litigation. 

The court recognized that the work product doctrine protected from discovery those documents, among others, that were produced in anticipation of litigation.  The court noted other cases that have indicated that a determination has to be made as to when the carrier's compilation of information morphs from claims evaluation to an anticipation of litigation. In determining the work product issue, the Borgia court ruled that the UIM carrier was deemed to have reasonably anticipated litigation regarding the Plaintiff’s UIM claim when the company first retained outside counsel to assist in handling the claim. 

According to the court in Borgia, this date essentially becomes the dividing line for when materials needed to be produced.  Thus, since the UIM carrier was not deemed to reasonably anticipate litigation until it assigned defense counsel, the UIM carrier was required by the court to produce unredacted documents, including reserves information contained therein, with respect to those documents produced in the claims file prior to the time defense counsel was assigned by the carrier. 

The court in Borgia went on to find that documents created in the claims file after the date the UIM carrier assigned defense counsel were not shown to be otherwise discoverable by the Plaintiff.
Anyone wishing to read this Opinion may click HERE.  The accompanying Court Order can be viewed HERE.
I send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Schmidt Kramer law firm in Harrisburg, PA for bringing this case to my attention.

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