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?”
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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.


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Last week’s post, The Big Picture in Discovery of Insurer Claims Practices, discussed a case from the Supreme Court of Kentucky that provided an overview of how Courts tie together various principles of discovery that are generally raised in the discovery of bad faith cases. General rules of bad faith discovery vary between states and the types controversies at issue. An Indiana federal court decision, Harper v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 138 F.R.D. 655 (S.D. Ind. 1991), is a classic example.

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Over the last few weeks, the Friday blog post has addressed the different approaches that can be used by plaintiff’s attorneys when battling evasive discovery tactics used by insurers in bad faith cases. We discussed the fact that, in a bad faith lawsuit, an insured is entitled to a plethora of information that might not otherwise be discoverable. We’ve also mentioned claims files quite a bit, but I realized that we had not really discussed in detail what should be in an insurer’s claims file, how it can help you in your bad faith lawsuit, and why you may be entitled to it. So, here goes…


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(Note: This Guest Blog is by Corey Harris, an attorney with Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, office. This is part of a series he is writing on post-loss duties). 

In Florida, discovery in breach of contract actions usually centers around the mystical “claim file” which insurers guard more closely than their first born child. As most who read this blog already know, the “claim file” has been held to be generally protected by Florida courts, and usually undiscoverable in a breach of contract action.


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