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The Texas Supreme Court has Recently Clarified when a Request for Production is Overbroad

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In Re National Lloyd's Insurance Company, 58 Tex. Sup. J. 64 (Tex. 2014)

The Facts:

The Supreme Court recently considered a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in the case of In Re National Lloyd's Insurance Company, 58 Tex. Sup. J. 64 (Tex. 2014). The Mandamus arose from a Dallas County case in which a homeowner sued National Lloyd's Insurance Company for breach of contract and other statutory violations alleging that the company undervalued her claims for damage arising from two storms which caused damage to the Plaintiff's home.

To develop evidence to support her claims, the Plaintiff propounded a Request for Production seeking production of "all claim files from the previous six years involving three individual adjusters for properties in Dallas and Tarrant Counties." The Plaintiff claimed she needed the claim files to prove that the insurance adjusters did not properly inspect her house or value her claims. National Lloyd's objected to the request as being overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeking information that was neither relevant nor calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The trial court ordered production of the requested claims files. Lloyd's sought mandamus relief from the Court of Appeals, which was denied.

The Court's Analysis:

The Supreme Court of Texas issued an opinion, holding that "Overbroad requests for irrelevant information are improper whether they are burdensome or not." Accordingly, there is no requirement that a production request be burdensome in order to constitute an overbroad request.

In a footnote, the Court commented that it was not holding that evidence of third-party insurance claims can never be relevant in insurance coverage litigation. However, in this case, the Court found that there was at best a remote possibility that such claims would lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The Court concluded that the "possibility" that a request would lead to the discovery of admissible evidence is not sufficient to render documents discoverable under Rule 192.3(a) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

What to Take Away:

Therefore, in order for a discovery request to be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, the potential that the request will lead to the development of admissible evidence must be more than a mere remote possibility.

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