U.S. Fire Insurance Co. v. General Reinsurance Corp.

Issue Discussed: Privilege and Work Product / Privilege Logs / Common Interest Doctrine

Submitted by Amy Kline [1]

Date Promulgated: July 20, 1989

U.S. Fire Insurance Co. v. General Reinsurance Corp.
, No. 88 CIV 6457 (JFK), 1989 WL 82415 (S.D.N.Y. July 20, 1989)

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of California

Issue Decided: Under what circumstances does the common interest doctrine apply to shield from production otherwise privileged documents shared by an insurer with its broker/intermediary in the placement of reinsurance?

Key Holding              

An unredacted version of an internal memorandum prepared by counsel analyzing the merits’ of parties’ respective coverage positions was not discoverable even though the insurer shared it with its reinsurance broker/intermediary. The court held that the broker/intermediary’s role is to “bridge the information gap between ceding office and reinsurer,” and that communications “to one’s insurer made as a consequence of pending litigation are privileged work product.” The court further recognized that the broker/intermediary and the reinsurer “were and remain in a community of interest regarding this lawsuit.” Therefore, “shared communications among those entities retain their privileged status under the work product doctrine.”

Key Takeaways

Sharing otherwise privileged information by an insurer/cedent to its broker/intermediary for reinsurance does not act as a waiver of the work product doctrine.



[1]               Amy Kline is a Vice-Chair of the Litigation Department and a Partner in the Insurance Practice Group of Saul Ewing LLP, resident in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.