Monday, June 1, 2020

Wide-Ranging Discovery Allowed in Breach of Contract and Bad Faith Claim on a Homeowner's Policy


Senior Judge Carmen D. Minora of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas recently issued a notable discovery decision in the property damage homeowner's insurance breach of contract and bad faith case of Czaykowski v. Travelers Home and Marine Ins. Co., No. 19-CV-2928 (C.P. Lacka. Co. May 29, 2020 Minora, J.).

The Opinion addresses a Motion for a Protective Order filed by the carrier against a Plaintiff's request for institutional discovery from the carrier related to Pennsylvania matters and matters from other states.

The Plaintiff's wide-ranging discovery requests included demands for the production of policy manuals used by the carrier, personnel files of claims representatives, bonus incentive program documents, performance reviews, record retention and destruction policies of the carrier, as well as the production of copies of any complaints filed with the Insurance Commissioner against the carrier, any disciplinary proceedings against the carrier in any state, and any similar property damage breach of contract lawsuits. 

The carrier asserted that it would cost $1 million dollars to undertake the efforts to respond to the above discovery requests.

The Plaintiffs also requested the production of reserves information relative to the case at hand.

Senior Judge Carmen D. Minora
Lackawanna County

Judge Minora was not convinced by the carrier's assertions of undue burden and denied the motion in large part. However, he limited his allowance of the Plaintiff's discovery requests to only cover information for a four year period, which was selected as that is the statute of limitations for a breach of contract action. The Judge allowed the Plaintiff to pick the beginning and end date for the four years of discovery they desired.

The Court also limited the scope of the Plaintiff's discovery requests to Pennsylvania matters and decided that the carrier did not have to produce documents from other states that might be responsive.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

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