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Vincent v. DS Services of America Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

January 4, 2018

KELLY VINCENT, ET AL.
v.
DS SERVICES OF AMERICA, INC., ET AL.

         APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ACADIA, NO. 2016-10101 HONORABLE THOMAS R. DUPLANTIER, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Thomas J. Eppling Corey P. Parenton David C. Bernard Staines & Eppling COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS: DS Services of America, Inc. Tomas U. Gilmore Safety National Casualty Corporation

          Terry L. Rowe Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

          Joseph Frazer Gaar, Jr. Jacob H. Hargett Lucas S. Colligan Law Offices of Joseph F. Gaar COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Kelly Vincent Collin Vincent Maci Vincent

          Jason M. Welborn Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Kelly Vincent Colin Vincent Maci Vincent

          Court composed of Marc T. Amy, Shannon J. Gremillion, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.

          SHANNON J. GREMILLION JUDGE

         Plaintiffs were involved in a motor vehicle accident with a truck owned by DS Services of America, Inc., which was driven by Tomas Gilmore and insured by Safety National Casualty Corporation (collectively Defendants). Plaintiffs also filed a property claim against their automobile liability policy insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm), but State Farm is not a party to this litigation. Defendants issued a subpoena duces tecum to State Farm seeking its claim file and other information about Plaintiffs' claims history. State Farm filed a Motion to Quash and voluntarily produced a police report, submissions for property damage repair, a State Farm internal property damage estimate, and photographs, but declined to produce recorded statements or claims notes, asserting attorney-client privilege and that the documents were prepared in anticipation of litigation.

         The trial court granted the Motion to Quash in part and denied it in part, ordering the production of a recorded witness statement. Defendants allege the trial court erred in failing to require State Farm to produce the remaining documents, specifically Plaintiffs' claims history, claims notes, and recorded statements. Defendants assign as error:

1. The trial court failed to follow clear Third Circuit jurisprudence regarding the production of claims files when it erred in finding that State Farm's claims file, including, but not limited to, the recorded statements of Plaintiffs and the adjuster's claims notes pertaining to this accident, was protected from discovery, and
2. The trial court erred in granting in part State Farm's Motion to Quash.

          DISCUSSION

         A trial court's regulation of pre-trial discovery is afforded broad discretion and will not be reversed in the absence of a clear abuse of discretion. Moak v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 93-783 (La. 1/14/94), 631 So.2d 401. The discovery ...


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