Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Deposition of Plaintiff's Counsel Allowed in Bad Faith Claim

In the case of Adeniyi-Jones v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 147101 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 21, 2015), the Pennsylvania Eastern District Federal Court allowed a deposition of Plaintiff’s counsel in a UIM/bad faith claim.  

In this matter, the Plaintiff filed suit against her own automobile insurance company for UIM benefits and included a bad faith claim with respect to the negotiations on the UIM claim.  

The carrier’s counsel noticed a deposition of Plaintiff’s counsel.  Plaintiff’s counsel responded with a Motion for a Protective Order.

The carrier wished to take the Plaintiff’s counsel’s deposition with respect to discussions that attorney had with State Farm’s claims representative prior to the filing of a lawsuit.   

The allegations of bad faith in the Complaint included allegations pertaining to the failures of the carrier to request an examination under oath or an IME.  The carrier contended that an oral agreement existed between the claims representative and Plaintiff’s counsel that Plaintiff’s counsel would provide information to State Farm such that an examination under oath and an IME would not be required.   Accordingly, the existence of any oral agreement was central to a defense of the bad faith claim.

The court found that Plaintiff’s counsel had relevant information available only through her on that defense.   The court additionally ruled that communications with the claims representative were not protected by the attorney-client privilege.  

While the court allowed the defense counsel to take the deposition of the Plaintiff’s counsel, that deposition was limited to discovery of pre-litigation communications between Plaintiff’s counsel and the carrier’s claims representative.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this case may click this LINK

I send thanks to Attorney Thomas A. McDonnell of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania law firm of Summers, McDonnell, Hudock, & Guthrie for bringing this case to my attention.  

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