Two requests for production to a Director's and Officer's Liability Insurance Company, Progressive, were at issue in a recent decision by a U.S. Magistrate Judge, Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 2014 WL 4168477 (N.D. Iowa August 22, 2014)(Strand, U.S.M.J.). They were requests for production of:
12. All documents relating to the purchase, placement or ceding of any reinsurance by you [the liability insurance carrier] that relate to the Policy, including all status reports provided by you to such reinsurance companies and memoranda relating to meetings with reinsurers.
23. All documents relating to any communications with any reinsurer about the Claims.
The discovery pleading defined "Policy" as the liability insurance policy at issue in the case, and "Claims" as "'any and all demands for insurance coverage and/or payment made by the FDIC and/or any officers or directors of Vantus Bank." Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 2014 WL 4168477 *1 (N.D. Iowa August 22, 2014)(Strand, U.S.M.J.).
The liability insurance company that received these requests contended that it could redact (black out) parts of reinsurance communications on the grounds of either attorney-client privilege or work product immunity or both, after a previous Order directing production of the requested documents.
The Court overruled objections based on work product immunity from discovery. First, the Court agreed with FDIC, the plaintiff in this case and the party that propounded the requests, "because the information was created in the ordinary course of Progressive's business":
The documents were prepared and distributed to the reinsurance companies and broker for business purposes. Progressive itself admits that the documents were provided for case updates pursuant to the reinsurance agreements, or in response to specific requests, and included the matter's history, its present posture, current activity, assessments of coverage and liability issues, amounts paid and reserve, and plans for future handling. Doc No. 75 at 10. Those are all typical business purposes for the reinsurance industry. Progressive has not met its burden of showing that these documents were “prepared or obtained because of the prospect of litigation.” [Citation omitted.] Therefore, they are not subject to protection under the work product doctrine.
The Court further overruled objections based on the attorney-client privilege, for two reasons. First, "Progressive waived any applicable attorney-client privilege when it distributed the communications to its reinsurers and broker." Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 2014 WL 4168477 *4 (N.D. Iowa August 22, 2014)(Strand, U.S.M.J.).
Second, even assuming that the so-called "common interest doctrine" applied under the circumstances, still that doctrine as defined by the Court requires an identity of legal interests, not commercial interests. "The relationship between Progressive and its reinsurers and broker is commercial and financial in nature, not legal." Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 2014 WL 4168477 *4 (N.D. Iowa August 22, 2014)(Strand, U.S.M.J.).
Based on the record before it, the Court granted the plaintiff's motion to compel production of the requested documents without redaction in this case.
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