Keathley v. Grange Insurance Company of Michigan

Filing 64

OPINION and ORDER Denying Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Defendant to Produce Documents. Signed by District Judge Paul D. Borman. (DTof)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION TIMIKA KEATHLEY, Plaintiff, Case No. 15-cv-11888 v. Paul D. Borman United States District Judge GRANGE INSURANCE COMPANY OF MICHIGAN, Mona K. Majzoub United States Magistrate Judge Defendant. ___________________________/ OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT TO PRODUCE DOCUMENTS THAT WERE THE SUBJECT OF A COURT ORDERED IN CAMERA REVIEW: ALL OF THE REQUESTED DOCUMENTS ARE PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN DEFENDANT AND ITS OUTSIDE COUNSEL PROTECTED BY THE DEFENDANT’S ATTORNEY CLIENT PRIVILEGE AND/OR THE WORK PRODUCT DOCTRINE The Court’s Opinion and Order of March 30, 2017, stated, inter alia, that the Court would conduct an in camera review of the Defendant’s claimed privileged communications between its employees and its outside legal counsel “to verify (or defeat) Grange’s assertion, which Grange bears the burden of establishing, that Mr. Walker [outside counsel] was retained solely for the purpose of, and did through these many claimed privileged communications, provide only legal advice regarding 1 coverage.” ECF No. 58, p. 6. In conducting its review, the Court recognized the competing legal doctrines that apply to its review. On one side is Defendant Grange’s right to protection of its documents relating to legal advice under the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine. On the other side is the Plaintiff’s right, in the context of an insurance claim, to “communications by attorneys acting as insurance claims investigators, rather than as attorneys, [which] are not protected by the attorney client privilege.” 7 Mile & Keystone, LLC v. Travelers Cas. Ins. Co. #11-cv-12930, 2012 WL 6553 585, at *3(E.D. MI, Dec. 14, 2012) (“Defendant cannot simply delegate investigative work to a lawyer and claim it is protected by its lawyer-client privilege or the work product doctrine.”) Defendant provided the documents ordered for in camera review on April 26, 2017: a copy of its cover letter was provided to Plaintiff’s counsel. Per the March 30, 2017 Order (ECF No. 58, p. 7), the Court has reviewed the following documents: 56-57, 90-98, 138-139, 141-142, 143-145, 187-189, 192-197, 215, 221, 227, 576, 578, 581, 582, 598, 599, 601-602, 603-650. The Court concludes that all of the documents provided by Defendant Grange under this order are privileged communications between outside counsel and Grange employees, and accordingly are protected by the attorney-client privilege and/or the 2 work product doctrine. In particular, the Court finds that many of the communications dealt with outside counsel’s preparation for the Examination Under Oath (EUO) of the Plaintiff, a legal proceeding. In conclusion, the Court is satisfied that Defendant’s claims of protection from disclosure are valid; the documents are privileged under the attorney-client privilege and/or the work product doctrine. Accordingly, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery of those documents. SO ORDERED. s/Paul D. Borman PAUL D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE Dated: July 6, 2017 CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE The undersigned certifies that a copy of the foregoing order was served upon each attorney or party of record herein by electronic means or first class U.S. mail on July 6, 2017. s/Deborah Tofil Case Manager 3

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