My sister, Emily Merlin, has a bachelor’s degree in paralegal administration from the University of West Florida. She reminds me that she can do anything that I can as a lawyer except give legal advice, take depositions or go to hearings. The truth is that paralegals help our policyholder clients and can become subject matter experts. They can make the difference between winning and losing a case. 

Continue Reading Marine, Boat, and Yacht Claims Files Are Discoverable In New York—A Tribute Post To Retiring Paralegal Bob Bluni 

I’ve previously written about the “claims file privilege” in the state of Florida. In that blog post, Obtaining the Insurance Company Claims File, I discussed that the “claims file privilege” is a judicially created privilege and as a result of Florida abolishing common law privilege, privileges cannot be derived from judicial construction. Florida Statutes 90.501-90.510 discuss the applicable privileges in Florida, and “claims file” is not one of them.
Continue Reading The “Claims File Privilege” in Florida

In Florida, insurance defense attorneys often cite the “claims file privilege.” This “privilege” spawned from a series of overly broad court opinions over the last several years. Generally, the “claims file privilege” protects documents in the claims file created and maintained by the insurance carrier. Effectively this allows insurance companies to hide documents by merely stamping it as a part of the claim file. This “privilege” has annoyed many plaintiff attorneys over the years; but how did this privilege come about?
Continue Reading Obtaining the Insurance Company Claims File

Merlin Law Group is closely monitoring a case pending before the South Carolina Supreme Court to see how it answers the question: “Does South Carolina law support application of the ‘at issue’ exception to the attorney-client privilege such that a party may waive the privilege by denying liability in its answer?”
Continue Reading Does An Insurer Waive Privilege for Attorney-Client Communications in the Claims File By Denying Bad Faith?

Last week I blogged about how the recent Willis v. Swain case ruling out of Hawaii, may impact and shape future cases as we move forward full-steam into 2014. Looking back at the past year, it’s also important to mention a ruling from a Washington state court that will be helpful to insureds in efforts to procure bad faith damages. It is well known in the litigation realm that plaintiffs and their attorneys are continually frustrated when trying to obtain discovery of the claim file – only to find numerous redactions in the file during the adjusting period accompanied by a privilege log stating that these communications are attorney-client privilege.

Continue Reading In Washington, There May Be No Attorney-Client Privilege for Insurers During the Adjusting of a Claim

This blog is an extension of my September 27th and October 18th posts. The decision that is the focus of today’s blog is brief and not-so-recent, but one of the holdings toward the end of the opinion is very well put and worth noting.

Continue Reading Contractual and Extra-Contractual Discovery Overlap: Dynamite Discovery Decisions, Part 19

In the Olin Corp. case,1 one of Olin Corporation’s (“Olin”) three carriers admitted only a small amount of liability and the other two delayed making a coverage decision. So, Olin filed suit in federal court against all three, seeking entry of a declaratory judgment that it was entitled to coverage.

Continue Reading Reinsurance Discoverable – Dynamite Discovery Decisions, Part 5