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McAdam v. State National Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 21, 2014

ROBERT McADAM, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, INC. and ROES 1 through 25, inclusive, Defendants

Page 1010

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1011

For Robert McAdam, Plaintiff: Anna F Roppo, Annette Colleen Clark, William Patrick Keith, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Duckor Spradling Metzger and Wynne, San Diego, CA.

For State National Insurance Company, Inc., Defendant: Joan M. Borzcik, Matthew C Elstein, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Gordon & Rees LLP, San Diego, CA.

OPINION

Page 1012

ORDER RE: OBJECTIONS TO THE ORDER COMPELLING BETTER DISCOVERY RESPONSES

BARRY TED MOSKOWITZ, Chief United States District Judge.

Defendant State National Insurance Company, Inc. (" State National" ) and Arnold & Arnold, Inc. (collectively, " the objectors" ) have filed objections (Doc. 50) to the November 1, 2013 Order Compelling Better Discovery Responses in this case. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court VACATES the Order (Doc. 44) and the matter is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this Order.

I. BACKGROUND

This case arises from a " Hull and Machinery/Protection and Indemnity" Policy (" Policy" ) issued by State National to Plaintiff Robert McAdam for the term May 5, 2011 to May 5, 2012. State National is a " program" underwriting firm that does not do claims adjustment itself. Plaintiff owns the vessels Jessica M and Shirley B, both of which were insured under the Policy at all relevant times. On February 24, 2012, Shirley B 's rudder snapped off while the vessel was fishing near New Zealand. Jessica M sailed some 70 miles to help and towed Shirley B to port in Tauranga, New Zealand. State National directed the Shirley B to a repair yard in Whangarei, New Zealand. Both ships underwent repairs in New Zealand. Plaintiff sought reimbursement for repairs under the Policy. State National retained Optimum Claims Services, Inc. (" Optimum" ) for claims adjustment purposes. The claim concerning the Jessica M was denied in May 2012.

On June 4, 2012, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, asserting the following causes of action: (1) breach of insurance contract; (2) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (3) injunctive relief and restitution pursuant to Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § § 17200, et seq. ; and (4) declaratory relief. The Court dismissed the third cause of action. (Doc. 9.) Discovery proceeded thereafter under the charge of Magistrate Judge Dembin.

Page 1013

A hearing on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 32) was held on September 27, 2013. At that hearing, State National's counsel requested an in camera review. Hr'g Tr. 13:3-11 (Doc. 49). Judge Dembin ordered the parties to meet and confer regarding remaining discovery disputes, and to file a joint brief concerning any materials that remain in dispute on October 14, 2013. (Doc. 39.) On October 2, 2013, the objectors produced over 560 pages of documents previously withheld, along with an amended privilege log. These documents included, inter alia, State National's reinsurance contract with Wind River Reinsurance Co. and Optimum's claim handling guidelines. (Doc. 43.) State National redacted, as irrelevant and " proprietary," information concerning loss reserves, and asserted the attorney-client privilege as to communications (a) between State National and Gordon & Rees, LLP (" G& R" ), and (b) G& R and independent adjuster and marine surveyor Arnold & Arnold (" A& A" ). Over 650 pages remained in dispute. State National thereafter submitted the disputed documents for review in camera, and the parties filed supplemental briefs on October 28 (Docs. 42, 43). On November 1, 2013, Judge Dembin ruled (1) that ...


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