Monday, April 11, 2022

Discovery of Excess Insurance Limits Allowed

In the case of Butler v. Scranton Manufacturing Co., Inc., No. 18-CV-5167 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Feb. 18, 2022 Nealon, J.), the court addressed issues regarding discovery of excess insurance information.

This case arose out of an incident during which a Dunmore, PA borough garbage collector was injured when he was riding a garbage truck on its rear riding step and that step allegedly snapped and detached from the truck while the truck was moving, resulting in injuries to the Plaintiff.

At issue in this particular decision was the Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel the Defendant to disclose excess carrier’s insurance information.

Judge Nealon noted that, “[a]lmost 50 years ago,” the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that the Plaintiff is entitled to pre-trial discovery of the identity of a Defendant’s liability carrier and the maximum coverage limits for any such liability coverage. 

That rule was more recently codified by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court under Pa. R.C.P. 4003.2, which became effective back in 1979 and provides, in pertinent part, that a “party may obtain discovery of the existence in terms of any insurance agreement under which any person carrying on an insurance business may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment....”

The court noted that, based upon this law, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that full and complete information regarding insurance coverage is essential to the settlement process and has long been held to be discoverable.

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
Lackawanna County

Judge Nealon found that the law was so well-established that “no Defendant or attorney can seriously argue in a court filing, without running a fowl of Pa. R.C.P. 1023.1, or the pertinent rules of professional conduct, that the existence, terms, and coverage limits of any liability insurance policy affording primary, excess or umbrella coverage to a named Defendant is not clearly discoverable.” See Op. at 3.

Based upon this law, the court granted Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel the Defendant to disclosure the excess carrier’s insurance information.

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

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