AIU Insurance Company (“AIU”) sued its reinsurer, TIG Insurance Company (“TIG”), for breach of contract arising from underlying coverage litigation pertaining to asbestos claims. After AIU, an excess carrier, settled claims, it provided written notice to TIG under the reinsurance contracts. Suspecting the possibility of a late notice defense to AIU’s claim, TIG undertook an investigation, including an audit under the “access-to-records” clause of the reinsurance contracts. Prior to the audit, TIG retained outside counsel, who provided TIG’s claims investigators with advice pertaining to the conduct of the audit. The investigators took notes during the audit and submitted them to outside counsel.
During the course of the litigation, AIU issued discovery requests, seeking information pertaining to TIG’s late notice investigation and records audit. TIG provided some documents, and withheld others (including the records made during the audit) on the basis of attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine. While the Court upheld a few of TIG’s assertions of privilege (as set forth in a privilege log TIG produced in conjunction with its objections to AIU’s discovery requests), it ordered TIG to produce the majority of the withheld documents. As to the claim of attorney client privilege, the Court held that TIG failed, for the most part, to demonstrate with specific evidence that each document withheld in fact contained communications between TIG and its attorneys reflecting the request for or provision of legal advice. As to the claims of work product protection, the Court generally found that the documents were not clearly prepared in anticipation of litigation, and TIG failed to rebut the presumption that documents prepared by or for an insurer prior to a coverage decision are prepared in the ordinary course of the insurer’s business, and thus are not entitled to work product protection. AIU Insurance Co. v. TIG Insurance Co., Case No. 07-7052 (USDC S.D.N.Y. Aug. 28, 2008).
This post written by John Pitblado.