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Brawner v. All State Indemnity Co.

October 29, 2007

JOHN BRAWNER AND RENEA BRAWNER PLAINTIFFS
v.
ALLSTATE INDEMNITY COMPANY DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garnett Thomas Eisele United States District Judge

ORDER

Presently before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Quash and/or for Protective Order (Docket No. 44) and Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel as to Items Identified in the Privilege Log by Allstate Indemnity Company (Docket No. 46).

On May 4, 2007, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in this action alleging that they had a policy of homeowners insurance with Defendant Allstate Indemnity Company. Plaintiffs allege that on May 18, 2006, the home and contents were destroyed by fire. Plaintiffs further allege that on November 15, 2006, Defendant advised them that it would deny payment because: "(1) The policy of insurance is void as a result of willful concealment and misrepresentation of material facts regarding the cause and origin of the fire, among other things, and for false swearing in the Proof of Loss and examination under oath relating thereto[;] (2) The fire is of an incendiary origin for which you or someone on your behalf is responsible[;] (3) The Proof of Loss which you have filed is fraudulent in that you falsely stated the cause and origin of the fire, although you have knowledge of the true cause and origin of the fire[;] (4) The amount of your claim grossly exceeds any loss you may have actually sustained[;] (5) Finally, Allstate Insurance Company is exercising its right to cancel your policy." Plaintiffs allege breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, slander, breach of the insurance contract, outrage, bad faith, and negligence.

I. Motion to Compel as to Items Identified in the Privilege Log

Plaintiffs move this Court to require Defendant to provide the documents identified in Defendant's privilege log. Plaintiffs request that the Court immediately rule on whether or not any of the items claimed in the privilege log should be subject to the privilege. The Court notes that Plaintiffs failed to comply with Local Rule 7.2(g) in filing this motion. With regard to motions to compel and for protective orders, Local Rule 7.2(g) requires that such motions "shall contain a statement by the moving party that the parties have conferred in good faith on the specific issue in dispute and that they are not able to resolve their disagreements without the intervention of the Court. If any such motion lacks such a statement, that motion may be dismissed summarily for failure to comply with this rule." Furthermore, Plaintiffs have failed to submit a brief in support of their motion. In its response, Defendant provided a copy of the privilege log. Subsequently, the Court directed, without objection, that Defendant produce the documents described in the privilege log for an in camera review. Plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

Considering the claims and defenses being asserted in this case, document numbers 3, 6, 9, 20-23, 25, 28-31, 36, 40-43, 45-47, 50, 53, 54, 59-60, 64,*fn1 and 65 are discoverable because Defendant has not shown that they fall within the scope of any privilege. Therefore, Defendant is ordered to produce said documents. While these documents are discoverable, the Court notes that many of the referenced documents are not likely to be of any use to Plaintiff. Document numbers 1, 4, 7, 8, 10, 16-19, 49, 51, and 61-63 are irrelevant and/or contain no substantive information. The majority of these documents are copies of file folders. Therefore, Defendant need not produce said documents.

Document numbers 2, 5, 11-15, 24, 26-27, 32-35, 37-39, 46, 48, 52, 55, and 56-58 fall within the scope of the attorney-client privilege and/or work product, and therefore are not discoverable. However, the Court notes that many of the communications would not likely be of any use to Plaintiff, as they deal with scheduling matters and billings for services rendered. As to document number 66, the claim diary, Defendant is instructed to redact the claim diary to the extent that it contains information, or reflects a duplication of, those documents that the Court finds fall within the scope of the attorney-client and/or work product privilege, i.e. the restatement of counsel's recommendation found on pages 2-764 through 2-767. Defendant is instructed to produce the redacted version to Plaintiff.

Defendant is directed to produce the documents, as specified above, on or before November 2, 2007.

II. Motion to Quash and/or for Protective Order

Defendant moves this Court to quash Plaintiffs' Subpoena Duces Tecum directed toward Ray Sorrows, a private investigator hired by Allstate, or in the alternative, to issue a protective order, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(3) as work product protected from discovery. Rule 26(b)(3) provides:

[A] party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under subdivision (b)(1) of this rule and prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party's representative (including the other party's attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent) only upon a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of the party's case and that the party is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the court shall protect against disclosure the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation.

Furthermore, "[m]aterials assembled in the ordinary course of business . . . are not under the qualified immunity provided by this subdivision." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(3) advisory committee notes.

In Simon v. G.D. Searle & Co., 816 F.2d 397, 401 (8th Cir. 1987), the Eighth Circuit stated the test to determine whether documents were prepared in anticipation of litigation as follows:

[T]he test should be whether, in light of the nature of the document and the factual situation in the particular case, the document can fairly be said to have been prepared or obtained because of the prospect of litigation. But the converse of this is that even though litigation is already in prospect, there is no work product immunity for ...


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