A tool that every policyholder attorney should use is the 30(b)(6) deposition. This is when the policyholder attorney requests the Defendant Insurance Carrier to designate “one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on its behalf.”1 The testimony of the designee is binding upon the company, regardless of the designee’s personal knowledge of the subject matter.
A policyholder attorney utilizes this deposition as a tool to lock the carrier into testimony that could be used for a summary judgment motion, question the designee as to information provided in the carrier’s discovery responses, and, in some circumstances, obtain further information over and above the information provided from the carrier in its discovery responses.
I was able to obtain critical information in a recent 30(b)6 deposition of a carrier’s litigation specialist. The case revolved around roof damage and whether there was a suitable match for the damaged roof shingles. The policyholder’s position was that the shingles were discontinued and there was not a reasonable match for the existing shingles on the roof. The carrier’s position was that a reasonable replacement could be found at certain local distributers.
The focal point of my deposition was to obtain information as to how the carrier came to the conclusion that there was a suitable match to the roof. I wanted to know the basis of the carrier’s determination, as their discovery responses reflected that no roofing material was taken from the property nor any comparative analyses performed. During the deposition, I was able to pull from the designee that the carrier had, in fact, obtained an ITEL report for the shingle and it had not been produced as part of discovery. Therefore, I made a request for the report on the record. Upon receipt of the report, it was discovered that the ITEL report found not only that the shingle was discontinued, but the recommended replacement “is not a suitable individual tile repair type product and only recommended as a total Slope/Repair.” This information was critical in not only proving that the shingle was discontinued, but also that it couldn’t be functionally repaired even if there was a similar color.
Another benefit of the 30(b)(6) deposition is that carrier representatives, like most people, hate being deposed, and requesting the 30(b)(6) deposition can sometimes be the push needed for insurance carriers to start talking in terms of a settlement. There have been a few instances where I have had to file and obtain Orders to Compel the deposition of a corporate representative and then subsequently have the insurance carrier settle days before the Court-Ordered deposition.
30(b)(6) depositions are an integral part of a policyholder attorney’s case. It is part of a Merlin Law Group attorney’s practice to take these depositions and Merlin Law Group has the resources to ensure that its attorneys can take the necessary investigative steps to win their cases. If you have a property damage loss that needs legal assistance, please contact our office.
1 FRCP Rule 30(b)(6).