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Celebration Church, Inc. v. United National Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 25, 2015

CELEBRATION CHURCH, INC.,
v.
UNITED NATIONAL INSURANCE CO., SECTION:

ORDER

KAREN WELLS ROBY, Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant, United National Insurance Company's ("UNIC") Motion for Protective Order (R. Doc. 18), seeking a court order declaring that the six documents at issue are protected by attorney-client privilege and/or work product doctrine. The motion is opposed. R. Doc. 19. The motion was heard for oral argument on Wednesday, February 11, 2015.

I. Background

This case arises out of the theft of the condensers[1] in seven air conditioning units owned by the Plaintiff, Celebration Church ("Celebration"), on March 30, 2013. See R. Doc. 1-1, at 1. The thieves stoles the condenser equipment from each unit but left the copper tubing attached to each unit. Id. At the time of the theft, Celebration had a commercial property insurance policy through the Defendant, UNIC, and submitted a claim for $71, 894.40, the proposed cost to replace the condenser units. Id. at 2. The policy contained a "Precious Metals Exclusion" and UNIC denied Celebration's claim pursuant to the exclusion, which excludes the attempted theft of copper, aluminum or other precious metals. Id.

Celebration filed this action in the 24th Judicial District for the Parish of Jefferson on April 29, 2014 claiming that UNIC's denial of the claim was arbitrary and capricious, and that UNIC was in violation of good faith and fair dealing pursuant to La. R.S. 22:1892 and La. R.S. 22:1973 for its failure to timely, adequately and properly adjust its claim. Id.

As to the instant motion, UNIC seeks to prohibit the disclosure of certain privileged documents in response to a subpoena issued by Celebration to non-party and independent adjuster, Jonathan Kimball. See R. Doc. 18-1, at 1. UNIC argues that Celebration's subpoena requests the entire file of Jonathan Kimball and that a small number of the documents contain or memorialize communications between Kimball and counsel for UNIC. UNIC enumerates six documents it contends are protected:

1. A draft of an Affidavit of Jonathan Kimball, prepared by defense counsel Bruce W. Boudreaux but never signed by Mr. Kimball;

2. An email from defense counsel Bruce W. Boudreaux to Jonathan Kimball dated June 5, 2014;

3. An email from Kate Wilkinson of Global Indemnity/UNIC to Jonathan Kimball and copying Bruce W. Boudreaux dated June 5, 2014;

4. A second copy of the same email referenced in No. 3, located in Jonathan Kimball's File Review Notes;

5. A note entered by Jonathan Kimball on a "Time and Expense Worksheet, " dated June 19, 2014, describing his communication with Bruce W. Boudreaux; and

6. A note entered by Jonathan Kimball on a "Time and Expense Worksheet, " dated June 20, 2014, describing his communication with Bruce W. Boudreaux.

II. Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Evidence 501 states that "in a civil case, state law governs privilege regarding a claim or defense for which state law supplies the rule of decision." Thus, in a diversity action, as is before the Court, the Court must apply Louisiana law to determine whether the information sought is protected by the attorney-client privilege. Conoco Inc. v. Boh Bros. Const. Co., 191 F.R.D. 107, 115 (W.D. La. 1998) (citing Dunn v. State Farm ...


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