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 

Loss reserves are discussed and published in the media, and data freely exchanged until an insurance company is asked for it in a lawsuit. Once the lawsuit is filed, insurers pretend as if this information is something extraordinarily private and only told to a priest in a confessional. I suggest that insurers and their counsel are like Pinocchio, with long noses getting longer when making such absurd arguments preventing disclosure.
Continue Reading Loss Reserve Information For Property Insurers Should Be Disclosed In Litigation—Reserve Information In a First Party Case Is Relevant and Not a Secret

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

We’ve all seen it before. The insured files a claim, the insurance company sends out an adjuster to adjust the loss, the loss is more complex, or a situation arises that the adjuster cannot handle so the insurance company forwards the claim to their legal department. At that point, an attorney becomes involved and the adjustment of the claim, as well as the communication between the parties is limited and calculated.
Continue Reading Court Holds Documents Created by Counsel During Claims Handling Were Not Privileged

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?

In 2017, the Arizona Supreme Court changed the scope and limits of discovery to “any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party’ claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case.”1 Starting in July 2018, Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 26.2, will take effect. Rule 26.2 has been significantly changed, adopting a “Three-Tiered” system of civil case management to make discovery occur in a manner consistent with Rule 26.1(b)(1)—proportional discovery.
Continue Reading Changes in the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure Will Impact Your Case