Ray v. Ohio Security Insurance Co., 012121 MTWCC, 2020-5195

Docket Nº:2020-5195
Opinion Judge:DAVID M. SANDLER JUDGE
Party Name:MICHAEL RAY Petitioner v. OHIO SECURITY INSURANCE CO. Respondent/Insurer.
Case Date:January 21, 2021

2021 MTWCC 1

MICHAEL RAY Petitioner

v.

OHIO SECURITY INSURANCE CO. Respondent/Insurer.

No. 2020-5195

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

January 21, 2021

Submitted: December 15, 2020

ORDER SUSTAINING RESPONDENT'S DISCOVERY OBJECTIONS

DAVID M. SANDLER JUDGE

Summary: This Court reviewed documents in camera to determine if the information that Respondent objected to producing was protected by the attorney-client or work-product privilege, or whether it was reserve information, which is irrelevant to the issues in this case. This Court also reviewed the documents to determine whether Respondent's attorneys acted as the claims adjusters, in which case the attorney-client and work-product privileges would arguably be waived.

Held: This Court sustained Respondent's objections because the information to which it objected to producing is privileged or irrelevant reserve information. Moreover, Respondent did not waive any privilege because its attorneys did not act as claims adjusters; rather, they were acting solely within their roles as legal advisors.

¶ 1 Respondent Ohio Security Insurance Co. (Ohio Security) redacted portions of the documents it produced in discovery under ARM 24.5.324(4). Ohio Security objected to producing some of the information on the grounds that it is protected by the attorney-client or work-product privileges, and to the other information on the grounds that its reserve information is irrelevant to the issues in this case, which are whether certain medical conditions were caused by Petitioner Michael Ray's industrial accident.1

¶ 2 Pursuant to ARM 24.5.324(6)(c), Ray asked this Court to review the documents in camera and either sustain or overrule Ohio Security's objections. Ray also filed a brief in which he asked this Court to review the redacted portions to determine if Ohio Security's attorneys were acting as claims adjusters and cited cases supporting his position that when an attorney acts as a claims adjuster, the attorney-client and work-product privileges are waived.2

¶ 3 Ohio Security also filed a brief, asserting that its attorneys have not acted as claims adjusters in this case.

¶ 4 This Court has reviewed the documents that Ohio Security submitted in camera and sustains each of its objections. The information that Ohio Security redacted is protected by either the attorney-client privilege or the work-product privilege or is...

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