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Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Mahady

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

August 21, 2019

HOMEOWNERS CHOICE PROPERTY & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL MAHADY and NICOLE MAHADY, Respondents.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Petition for writ of certiorari to the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit; David E. French, Judge; L.T. Case No. 502018CA008010XXXXMB.

          David J. Salmon and Karl A. Forrest of Groelle & Salmon, P.A., Tampa, for petitioner.

          Donna Greenspan Solomon of Solomon Appeals, Mediation & Arbitration, Fort Lauderdale and Michael D. Kaplan of Kaplan Law Group, Hollywood, for respondents.

          Forst, J.

         Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Company ("Insurer") petitions for a writ of certiorari to quash an interlocutory order requiring discovery of documents in its underwriting and claims files. Insurer argues that the discovery is protected work product or irrelevant, or both. We have jurisdiction pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 9.030(b)(2)(A) and grant the petition.

         Background

         Michael and Nicole Mahady ("Insureds") had a homeowner's insurance policy issued by Insurer. After Insureds suffered damage to their home as a result of Hurricane Irma, they notified Insurer and it opened a claim. Insurer subsequently issued payment towards Insureds' claim for dwelling damages, and later tendered supplemental payment for mold and additional dwelling damages.

         Insureds then sued Insurer for breach of contract, alleging that the above payments were insufficient and failed to cover all damages. Insurer admitted that it issued the policy, received notice of the loss, and issued a claim number. Insurer asserted a variety of affirmative defenses, which the Insureds denied. Thereafter, Insureds requested production of documents and answers to interrogatories. Insurer produced many documents, but objected to others, arguing that the requests were work product, irrelevant, or both. Insurer did not file a privilege log.

         Following a non-evidentiary hearing, the trial court issued its order which overruled Insurer's objections to certain interrogatories and production requests, leaving six discovery requests at issue in the instant petition. Two involve the underwriting file and the remaining four involve the claims file. The trial court summarily overruled the two objections concerning the underwriting file. In overruling the remaining four production requests, the court commented that these were "overruled to the extent that [I]nsurer must produce all documents up until the time the subject claim was denied."

         Insurer now petitions for a writ of certiorari to quash the order requiring discovery of documents in its underwriting and claims files.

         Analysis

         To obtain a writ of certiorari, the petitioner must establish that the discovery order was a departure from the essential requirements of law resulting in a material injury that will affect the remainder of the proceedings below and the injury cannot be corrected on appeal. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Langston, 655 So.2d 91, 94-95 (Fla. 1995).

         The trial court denied Insurer's claims of work product privilege without making any supporting findings. We have held that "such findings are necessary to facilitate a meaningful review of the trial court's reasons for denying work product objections." Dismas Charities, Inc. v. Dabbs, 795 So.2d 1038, 1039 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001) (granting certiorari review because of the trial ...


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