Thompson and Hall Granted Petition for Writ of Mandamus Blocking Production of Overbroad Discovery Requests
Apr 28, 2022
Dallas partner Elizabeth Lee Thompson and senior attorney Shelby Hall were granted their petition for writ of mandamus by the Ninth Court of Appeals, with the court finding that the trial court erred in compelling production of claims process documents from their client Allstate. The court ruled that the trial court abused its discretion by compelling document production in response to “facially overbroad discovery requests” and that Allstate lacks an adequate remedy by appeal.
The trial court ordered Allstate to respond to Plaintiff’s requests for production, which sought thousands of pages of claims process documents that were 20-30 years old and had no bearing on whether Allstate complied with its contractual and extra-contractual duties when handling the Plaintiff’s 2018 water damage claim. Thompson and Hall filed a mandamus petition for Allstate asking the Court to overturn the trial court’s erroneous order compelling production of the documents.
The discovery rules require requests for production to seek only relevant materials, to be proportionate to the needs of the case, and to not be overbroad. Trial courts abuse their discretion when they order document production in response to facially overbroad requests.
The court determined that the Plaintiff was not entitled to discover documents unrelated to the insurance event at issue. A narrowly tailored document request about a tort committed in handling a claim should be reasonably limited in time and scope to near the time when the loss occurred and when the claim was processed. Although Plaintiff alleged Allstate still uses the same claims handling “concepts” contained in the sought-after documents, Plaintiff did not tailor her request to documents that were in effect when Plaintiff’s claims arose.