United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Honorable Margaret B. Seymour Senior United States District
David Graham (“Plaintiff”) is suing Defendant
National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, (“Defendant”) for breach of
insurance policy, bad faith, declaratory judgment, and
attorney's fees. ECF No. 1-1. This matter is before the
court on Plaintiff's motion to compel (ECF No. 15)
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a).
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
insured the vehicle driven by Plaintiff through
Plaintiff's employer. The insurance policy provided up to
$100, 000 coverage for accidents involving uninsured
motorists (“UM”). ECF No.1-1 at ¶
The insurance policy does not cover underinsured motorist
(“UIM”) accidents. See ECF No. 17-2,
17-6. UM coverage may apply in this case because the at-fault
driver had liability insurance for only up to $15, 000, which
is below the legal limit required by South Carolina and North
Carolina. Id., see ECF No. 17 at
alleges that on November 29, 2010, Plaintiff was driving his
employer's vehicle when he was struck by a Mandy Harmon
(“at-fault driver”). ECF No. 1-1 at ¶¶
4, 7. Plaintiff alleges that he began contacting Defendant in
September 2013 to set up a claim. ECF No. 24 at 2. Plaintiff
allegedly followed up on October 4, 2013, requesting
information on whether Defendant provided coverage for the
vehicle at the time of the accident. ECF No. 24-1. Plaintiff
alleges Defendant failed to respond, and Plaintiff followed
up on November 13, 2013, again with no response. ECF No.
24-2. Plaintiff filed suit against the at-fault driver on
November 14, 2013 (“underlying state lawsuit”).
ECF No. 1-1 at ¶ 5. On November 21, 2013, Plaintiff
faxed a letter requesting Defendant state whether it provided
coverage for the vehicle and providing a courtesy copy of the
lawsuit against the at-fault driver. ECF No. 24-3. On
February 14, 2014, Plaintiff again contacted Defendant, this
time by certified mail, and informed Defendant that Plaintiff
“will enforce any judgment received against
AIG/National Union Fire as it relates to the [at-fault
driver] case” and stated that “if [Defendant]
would like to appear and defend” then to provide
information on whether Defendant provided underinsured
motorist (“UIM”) coverage. ECF No. 24-4. By
letter dated March 5, 2014, Defendant responded that it did
not provide UIM coverage under the policy. ECF No. 16-2.
However, Defendant allegedly provided the policy covering
Plaintiff's employer's vehicles in South Carolina,
whereas the vehicle Plaintiff had been driving was registered
in North Carolina. ECF Nos. 15 at 1; 15-1.
attempted to seek coverage again, and was denied a second
time by letter dated March 5, 2015. Defendant stated that UIM
coverage was rejected by Plaintiff's employer; therefore,
Defendant did not provide coverage. ECF No. 15-2. However,
Defendant cited an incorrect policy number that does not
provide coverage for either uninsured or underinsured
motorists. See ECF No. 15-4 at 1-2 (applicable
policy number is 397-66-87); ECF No. 17 at 4 (providing
information on policy number 397-66-88 but stating 397-66-87
may apply in the case). Under the allegedly correct policy
number (397-66-87), Defendant provided UM coverage but not
UIM coverage. ECF No. 15-3.
November 30, 2016, a hearing convened before this court on
Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant moved
for summary judgment pursuant to South Carolina Code
Annotated § 38-77-150(B), which states that no action
may be brought under an uninsured motorist provision
“unless copies of the pleadings in the action
establishing liability are served . . . upon the insurer
writing the uninsured motorist provision.” The court
denied summary judgment. ECF No. 30. The court held that
given the multiple denials and alleged failures to respond to
Plaintiff's inquiries, there was a genuine issue of
material fact whether Plaintiff had a reasonable basis to
serve Defendant in the underlying state lawsuit.
September 23, 2016, the court stayed discovery pursuant to a
joint motion to stay. ECF No. 23. Prior to the grant of stay,
Defendant produced some documents and provided answers to
Plaintiff's interrogatories on June 27, 2016. ECF Nos.
15-4, 15-5, 15-6. Defendant contends that it is not required
to disclose any documents created after March 5, 2014, the
date of the first denial. See Id. On August 17,
2016, Plaintiff stated, through email, its disagreement with
Defendant's contention that Defendant was not required to
disclose any documents created after March 5, 2014. ECF No.
17-10 at 2. On August 18, 2016, Plaintiff moved to compel
additional responses to (1) Plaintiff's requests for
production numbers 4, 5, 7, and 8, and (2) responses to
Plaintiff's interrogatories 7 and 8. Defendant opposes
Plaintiff's motion to compel on grounds of relevance,
attorney-client privilege, and work-product doctrine. ECF No.
17. Currently before the court is Plaintiff's motion to
compel production of certain documents withheld by Defendant
on grounds of relevance, attorney-client privilege, and
work-product doctrine. ECF No. 15.
reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's motion to compel is
granted in part as to request for production number 4, 5, and
8, denied as moot as to number 7,  and granted as to
interrogatories 7 and 8.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that a party
“may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged
matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense
and proportional to the needs of the case . . . .”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). “Information within this scope
of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be
discoverable.” Id. Courts are to construe
broadly rules enabling discovery. Hickman v. Taylor,
329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947). If a party fails to answer an
interrogatory submitted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 33 or fails to produce a requested document,
“a party seeking discovery may move for an order
compelling an answer, designation, production, or
inspection.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3).
Documents Withheld on Relevance Grounds
Requests for ...