ROIG Lawyers Attorney Sets Precedent in Defense Victory from the Third District Court of Appeal
ROIG Lawyers attorney, Christine Louissaint and Nancy W. Gregoire of Kirschbaum, Birnbaum, Lippman & Gregoire secured a victory on behalf of the petitioner/insurer when the Third District Court of Appeal issued a writ quashing three lower court orders requiring petitioner/insurer, in first-party non-bad faith cases to produce portions of its adjusters’ claim files to a medical provider. The appellate court found that other courts have repeatedly held that an insurer’s claim file is not discoverable in first-party non-bad faith cases.
The Appellate court further found that the trial court applied the wrong law. In applying the wrong law, the lower court engaged in irreparable departure from the essential requirements of the law, resulting in manifest injustice.
The Third District Court of Appeal quashed the lower courts rulings based on the following:
1. A trial court departs from the essential requirements of law in permitting discovery of claim file materials, including adjuster’s notes in the claim file, while coverage litigation has not concluded.
2. Recognizing the claim file protection.
3. An insurer’s claim files, investigative reports, and notes “are either irrelevant to the first-party dispute that this case presents or are privileged work product.”
4. When the issue of insurance coverage is unresolved and at issue in pending court proceedings, a trial court must not order an insurer to produce its claims files and other work product documents.
5. Work product privilege can apply to “investigative materials” if they were compiled “in response to some event which foreseeably could be made the basis of a claim.”