THE TRIAL COURT DEPARTED FROM THE ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS OF LAW IN ORDERING THE DISCLOSURE OF MATERIALS AND PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN BY THE INSURER’S ADJUSTER
Avatar Property & Casualty Ins. Co. v. Mitchell, 46 Fla. L. Weekly D168 (Fla. 3rd DCA January 13, 2021)
The homeowner insured reported a claim for damage to her residence. An adjuster came out and met with a loss consultant that the homeowner had retained. The adjuster prepared a post-loss report, and photographed the interior and exterior of the residence recording his observations on each of the photographs.
After a coverage dispute arose, plaintiff sought discovery of all of the photographs taken by the insurer of the property that day, as well as all statements containing information regarding a statement by the plaintiff at any time during the insurance company’s handling of the plaintiff’s loss, including adjuster notes, claim reports, interoffice memoranda, tape recordings, and transcripts.
The insurance company asserted work product privilege and filed a privilege log. However, following an in-camera inspection, the trial court ordered the insurer to produce the report as well as unredacted photographs.
The court issued the writ of certiorari. When the plaintiff retained a loss consultant and lodged a claim, the insurance company’s adjuster was tasked with investigating whether the claim was subject to coverage. Consequently, those materials constituted work product.
Also, the insured made no showing of exceptional circumstances required to justify disclosure. Without such a showing, it was error for the trial court to compel production of these work product materials.