A couple of rulings about deposing insurance companies and attorneys are remarkable enough to warrant their own article here, from the recent decision in Bank of America, N.A. v. Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 2014 WL 4851853 (M.D. Ga. September 29, 2014). This case involved unique bad faith claims which I intend to address separaately in a future article on Insurance Claims and Bad Faith Law Blog.
Here, I want to address the Court's rulings in this case imposing conditions on and sustaining objections to depositions of insurance companies and attorneys. The insurance company's corporate representative was already deposed in that case when BofA sought to take the depositions of two of the insurance company's attorneys. The insurance company raised various objections including attorney-client privilege, work product immunity from discovery, and "asked and answered" (although there is absolutely no indication that either attorney was previously deposed in that case or in any other; more on this below).
"The Court granted a hearing on the present Motions and ordered BANA [Bank of America] to submit a list of intended deposition questions." Bank of America, N.A. v. Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 2014 WL 4851853 *1 (M.D. Ga. September 29, 2014). Was this a Court-ordered deposition upon written questions? What would happen if the bank's attorneys asked questions that went beyond the list? Upon what authority did the Court rely in ordering the bank's attorneys to submit a list in the first place, other than the bailiff? Why did the Court not order or ask the bank instead what the bank's attorneys intended to go into, what the subject matters would be, which is perhaps the far more usual course in such a case?
We don't know. The Court did not address any of these issues in this decision.
Second, there is the issue of the insurance company's mysterious "asked and answered" objections to the questions on the list submitted to the Court that the bank's attorneys would ask the insurance company's attorneys -- witnesses who had never been deposed in the case or in any related case apparently. "In its extensive objections to BANA's submitted questions, GFB [Georgia Farm Bureau] asserted that many of the questions were asked and answered." Answered by whom? "The Court agrees with GFB that various questions have been asked and answered." Again, answered by whom since the witnesses in question had never been asked? "Therefore the Court finds it proper to limit the scope of this deposition to questions that have not already been asked and answered by GFB." Bank of America, N.A. v. Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 2014 WL 4851853 *6 (M.D. Ga. September 29, 2014). [Italics by the Court; boldface added.]
I wish this decision had been issued a few years earlier. I can think of a few past cases when it might have come in handy. So, if your client is the company, and it has already been asked questions at its corporate representative's deposition, and if an opposing party wants to depose other people, you can file a motion for protective order on behalf of your client the company objecting to the new deposition questions on the ground that somehow they were already "asked and answered"?
More to come in a future article on Insurance Claims and Bad Faith Law Blog.
Please Read The Disclaimer. Copyright 2014 by Dennis J. Wall. All rights reserved. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.