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Florida Third DCA rules that plaintiff in breach of contract case against property insurer is not entitled to obtain defendant’s privileged claims file in discovery until there is a determination of policy coverage

On October 7, 2020, in Safepoint Insurance Company v. Gonzalez, et al., No. 3D20-1050, the Florida Third DCA quashed a trial court ruling that had required the defendant insurer in a first party homeowner’s insurance coverage dispute to turn over materials from its claims file.  The defendant claimed that the claims file materials were protected from disclosure under the work product and attorney-client privileges.  The Third DCA agreed, noting that an insurer’s claim generally constitutes work product and is protected from discovery prior to a determination of coverage in a breach of contract case.  In support the Third DCA cited State Farm Fla. Ins. Co. v. Aloni, 101 So. 3d 412, 414 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012), and Castle Key Ins. Co. v. Benitez, 124 So. 3d 379, 380 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013) (discovery which concerns only potential issues of bad faith or other purported improprieties in defending a claim are wholly impermissible unless and until it is determined that the policy indeed provides coverage).