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Re: Electric Insurance Co. v. Electrolux North America

August 22, 2011

RE: ELECTRIC INSURANCE CO.
v.
ELECTROLUX NORTH AMERICA, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Shipp United States Magistrate Judge

CHAMBERS OF MICHAEL A. SHIPP UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE MARTIN LUTHER KING COURTHOUSE 50 WALNUT ST. ROOM 2042 NEWARK, NJ 07102 973-645-3827

Not for Publication

LETTER OPINION AND ORDER

VIA CM/ECF

All counsel of record

Dear Counsel:

This matter comes before the Court upon a dispute regarding the discoverability of the non-privileged content of litigation files related to certain dryer fires. Plaintiff Electric Insurance Company ("EIC" or "Plaintiff") asserts that the Court‟s previous orders covered the production of litigation files. Defendant Electrolux North America, Inc. ("Electrolux" or "Defendant") strongly contests Plaintiff‟s position. For the reasons set forth below, the Court orders Defendant to produce specific, clearly-defined categories of discovery from the litigation files, which were not produced from the claims files.

I.Background

The parties are well-versed in the facts surrounding this matter. Therefore, the Court will address only those facts relevant to the instant dispute. According to Plaintiff, the Defendant was ordered to produce:

"[a]ll documents that concern, refer or relate to any other incidents involving fires allegedly caused by 5.7 cubic foot frontload gas dryers manufactured or sold by Electrolux.‟ (Request No. 10.) Further, Electrolux was ordered to identify all claims, including cases in litigation, involving fires "allegedly occurring in 5.7 cubic foot frontload gas dryers manufactured or sold‟ by Electrolux (Interrogatory No. 17), and to produce all documents that concern, refer or relate to those claims and cases. (Request No. 18.) (Docket Entry No. ("Doc. No.") 122 ("Pl.‟s 5/4/11 Ltr.") 3.) Therefore, Plaintiff argues, Electrolux cannot argue in good faith that the Court‟s July 15, 2010 and September 23, 2010 Orders do not require the production of responsive, non-privileged documents contained in Electrolux‟s litigation files. (Id.)

Defendant disputes Plaintiff‟s assertion that Electrolux has not produced any documents from its litigation files. According to Defendant:

Electrolux has turned over all the relevant claim and litigation files associated with the model product at issue. Moreover, Electrolux has produced copies of the Complaints filed in every lawsuit relating to a 5.7-cubic-foot gas dryer fire (over the past ten years), along with the underlying claims files for all such cases that Electrolux‟s Risk Group maintained prior to sending [the files] to Litigation.

Those claims files contain investigative materials, including expert assessments, inspection reports, photographs, and correspondence among Electrolux and the claimants (or their attorneys). (Doc. No. 131 ("7/20/11 Joint Ltr.") 5.) Electrolux argues that "EIC may obtain the "substantial equivalent‟ of information contained in Electrolux‟s [l]instigation [f]iles by simply reviewing the docket sheets for the matters identified by Electrolux and requesting copies of the filings it needs." (Doc. No. 99 ("3/8/11 Ltr.") 6.) Finally, Electrolux asserts that the burden of locating, identifying and logging the information in the litigation files outweighs any possible benefit to EIC, ...


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