In a discovery dispute between insurer Progressive and the FDIC, as receiver of the insured bank, a federal district court has rejected all claims of attorney-client privilege and work product protection to reinsurance information the court had previously directed Progressive to produce. As reported here, the court had compelled Progressive to produce certain reinsurance information to the FDIC, including communications with its reinsurers regarding potential coverage of the FDIC’s lawsuit against the bank’s directors and officers. Progressive then redacted portions of the communications on the grounds of attorney-client privilege and/or protected work product. The FDIC challenged both grounds. The court first found that the reinsurance information was not protected by work product because the information was created in the ordinary course of business and not “prepared or obtained because of the prospect of litigation.” The court then found that even if the documents contained attorney-client communications, any privilege was waived when Progressive voluntarily disclosed the documents to its reinsurers and broker. Progressive had argued that the common interest doctrine applied to the communications and, therefore, the attorney-client privilege was preserved. The court disagreed, finding the doctrine applied only when the parties shared a common legal interest, not a commercial or financial one. Further, there was no evidence establishing a joint strategy or legal enterprise, which is “central” to the common interest doctrine.

The court did reject the FDIC’s other claims as to alleged deficiencies in Progressive’s production, including Progressive’s failure to produce electronically stored information because Progressive was never previously required to retrieve it. Finally, the court rejected all of the reinsurer’s arguments that it need not comply with the FDIC’s subpoena for documents, including those of privilege, undue burden, and relevance. Progressive Casualty Ins. Co. v. FDIC, Case No. 12-CV-04041 (USDC N.D. Iowa Aug. 22, 2014).

This post written by Renee Schimkat.

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