Can you Depose the Claims Adjuster in a Koken Case? Courts are Split

A recent decision by Magistrate Judge Lynne A. Sitarski of the Eastern District Federal Court of Pennsylvania denied Plaintiff the opportunity to depose Defendant’s claims representative and claims manager in a post – Koken UIM case. See, Wagner v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co., No. 5:13 - CV - 06645 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 20, 2014 Sitarski, M.J.). Plaintiff claimed that the deposition was necessary to prove its breach of contract case at trial. Defendant countered that the deposition was not relevant to the breach of contract claim, and no bad faith claim was alleged. Further, the redacted claims log had already been produced. The Court agreed and granted the Motion for Protective Order in favor of Defendant State Farm.

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Two decisions on the same day by President Judge Thomas F. Burke, Jr. of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas denied Plaintiff’s request to depose the Defendant’s claims representative in two separate Post- Koken UIM cases. See, Garrett v. Griffin and Erie Ins. Exchange, No. 17274 of 2012 (C.P. Luz. Co. Oct. 4, 2013 Burke, J.); Krznefski v. Bish and State Farm, No. 16643 of 2012 (C.P. Luz. Co. Oct. 4, 2013 Burke, J.).

Other Courts have held that a deposition can be taken in limited circumstances. See Paulewicz v. Fronczkewicz, Bryan, and State Farm, 10655-CIVIL-2009 (Luz. Co. Feb. 1, 2010, Amesbury, J.). In a combined tortfeasor and UIM claim against State Farm, the Plaintiff requested the deposition of the State Farm claims representatives. No bad faith was alleged and Defendant State Farm objected to the depositions. The Court allowed the deposition to go forward but restricted the Plaintiff from deposing the claims representative on his “mental impressions, conclusions, or opinions respecting the value or merit of the claim, defenses to the claim, or respecting the strategy or tactics in defense of claims by State Farm....".

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