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Insurer’s Discovery Requests Ruled to be Overbroad in Construction Defect Suit

October 28, 2011 — CDJ Staff

The US District Court has ruled in the case of D.R. Horton Los Angeles Holding Co. Inc. v. American Safety Indemnity, Co. D.R. Horton was involved in a real estate development project. Its subcontractor, Ebensteiner Co., was insured by ASIC and named D.R. Horton as an additional insured and third-party beneficiary. D.R. Horton, in response to legal complaints and cross-complaints, filed for coverage from ASIC under the Ebensteiner policy. This was refused by ASIC. ASIC claimed that “there is no potential coverage for Ebensteiner as a Named Insurer and/or D.R. Horton as an Additional Insured.” They stated that “the requirements for coverage are not satisfied.”

The case same to trial with the deadline for discovery set at March 1, 2011. ASIC stated they were seeking the developer’s “job file” for the Canyon Gate project. D.R. Horton claimed that ASIC’s discovery request was overbroad and that it would be “unduly burdensome for it to produce all documents responsive to the overbroad requests.”

D.R. Horton did agree to produce several categories of documents, which included:

“(1) final building inspection sign-offs for the homes that are the subject of the underlying litigation;(2) an updated homeowner matrix for the underlying actions; (3) the concrete subcontractor files; (4) the daily field logs for D.R. Horton’s on-site employee during Ebensteiner’s work; (5) documents relating to concrete work, including documents for concrete suppliers; (6) documents relating to compacting testing; (7) documents relating to grading; and (8) D.R. Horton’s request for proposal for grading”

The court found that the requests from ASIC were overbroad, noting that the language of the ASIC Request for Production of Documents (RFP) 3-5 would include “subcontractor files for plumbing, electric, flooring, etc. - none of these being at issue in the case.” The court denied the ASIC’s motion to compel further documents.

The court also found fault with ASIC’s RFPs 6 and 7. Here, D.R. Horton claimed the language was written so broadly it would require the production of sales information and, again, subcontractors not relevant to the case.

Further, the court found that RFPs 8, 10, 11, and 13 were also overbroad. RFP 8 covered all subcontractors. D.R. Horton replied that they had earlier complied with the documents covered in RFPs 10 and 11. The court concurred. RFP 13 was denied as it went beyond the scope of admissible evidence, even including attorney-client communication.

The court denied all of ASIC’s attempts to compel further discovery.

Read the court’s decision…

Insurer’s Discovery Requests Ruled to be Overbroad in Construction Defect Suit