GEICO Won this UIM Privilege Issue in 15 Minutes or Less

An interesting privilege issue arose in the State of Washington—whether a plaintiff–insured may obtain her uninsured motorist carrier’s (UIM) post-litigation file in a bad-faith case.

Distinguishing between a general insurer’s claims file—which is discoverable—and a UIM file, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that the attorney–client privilege and work-product doctrine protect a UIM carrier’s post-litigation file.  Richardson v. Gov’t Employees Ins. Co., 2017 WL 4367701 (Wash. Ct. App. Oct. 3, 2017).  You may read the decision here.

Access to Attorney’s Post-Litigation File?

GEICO provided Christine Richardson with personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and UIM coverage.  After suffering injuries in a car accident, Richardson received a coverage-limits payment from the at-fault driver and money from GEICO’s PIP coverage, but that was not enough.  So, she filed a UIM claim and later a bad-faith lawsuit after GEICO denied UIM coverage. More…

Sweeping Privilege Loss—Baylor Must Produce Documents From Sexual-Assault Investigation

In a significant ruling that may exacerbate the continuing fallout from Baylor University’s sexual-assault scandal—and provide lessons for those conducting internal investigations—the USDC WDTX rejected Baylor’s “unsupported and unconvincing” privilege argument and ordered it to produce “all materials, communications, and information” provided to its investigating law firm.

The court held that Baylor’s intentional release of the law firm’s factual findings and recommendations necessarily disclosed attorney–client communications and constituted privilege waiver.  Doe v. Baylor Univ., No. 16–CV–173–RP (W.D. Tex. Aug. 11, 2017).  You may read the opinion here.

The Huddle

In an earlier post titled Baylor Univ. in Major Battle over Law Firm’s Investigation Documents, I set the stage for the Title IX plaintiffs’ motion to compel Baylor to produce documents provided to Pepper Hamilton, which it retained to conduct an “independent and external review of Baylor University’s institutional responses to Title IX and related compliance issues.” More…

GC Forwards Outside Counsel’s Email to PR Consultant—Waives Privilege

In-House lawyers often assemble a team of specialists to handle knotty disputes that have the potential to spiral out of control.  The team almost certainly includes outside counsel, but also forensic investigators, accountants, other consulting experts, or public-relations professionals.

As the dispute evolves, email communications among this team increase.  And even where the emails involve in-house and outside counsel, the potential for privilege waiver also increases. In a long-running dispute involving the business of healthcare, a recent court decision illustrates the corporate attorney–client privilege’s fragility when a team’s lawyers share legal advice with the team’s non-lawyers. More…