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Knapp v. West Bend Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

April 24, 2019

JAMES R. KNAPP, Plaintiff,
v.
WEST BEND MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY and AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Andrew P. Rodovich, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the court on the Motion to Reconsider [DE 27] filed by the plaintiff, James R. Knapp, on February 12, 2019. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         Background

         The plaintiff, James R. Knapp, initiated this matter against the defendant, West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, for underinsured motorist benefits under a West Bend policy of insurance. The claim was based on injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Knapp has alleged breach of contract, bad faith, and oppressive misconduct against the defendants.

         Knapp propounded requests for production of documents on West Bend. He requested “a complete copy of the insurance or investigative claim file developed by agents of the defendant including, but not limited to all claim files, notes memoranda, and evaluations”; “all claims management system documents generated by the defendant relating to the claim”; and “all claims management electronic files generated by the defendant relating to this claim.” In response to the requests for production, West Bend asserted the work-product privilege, the attorney-client privilege, and the insurer-insured privilege. West Bend provided a privilege log for reference. However, the privilege log did not contain the dates that the withheld documents were created.

         Knapp filed a motion to compel on January 4, 2019, requesting that the court order West Bend to identify the dates that the documents contained in its privilege log were created, to produce any such documents contained within the privilege log that pre-dated the initiation of litigation, and to produce a surveillance video. West Bend served an amended privilege log on January 9, 2019. West Bend provided proof of service with the court. Since Knapp did not file a reply, the court construed West Bend's notice as an indication that it had complied with Knapp's requests.

         Knapp filed the instant motion requesting the court to reconsider its order denying the motion to compel as moot. Knapp has indicated that West Bend has not provided the documents that were created prior to the initiation of this lawsuit or the surveillance video that he requested in his motion to compel. West Bend filed a response in opposition on February 22, 2019, and Knapp filed a reply on February 27, 2019.

         Discussion

         Although they are frequently filed, the Court of Appeals has described a motion for reconsideration as “a motion that, strictly speaking, does not exist under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Hope v. United States, 43 F.3d 1140, 1142 n.2 (7th Cir. 1994); see Talano v. Northwestern Med. Faculty Found., Inc., 273 F.3d 757, 760 n.1 (7th Cir. 2001). This type of motion “is a request that the [Court] reexamine its decision in light of additional legal arguments, a change of law, or perhaps an argument or aspect of the case which was overlooked.” Ahmed v. Ashcroft, 388 F.3d 247, 249 (7th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation omitted); see Seng-Tiong Ho v. Taflove, 648 F.3d 489, 505 (7th Cir. 2011) (explaining that a court can amend its judgment only if the petitioner can demonstrate a manifest error of law or present newly discovered evidence) (citing Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 494 (7th Cir. 2008); United States v. Ligas, 549 F.3d 497, 501 (7th Cir. 2008) (“A district court may reconsider a prior decision when there has been a significant change in the law or facts since the parties presented the issue to the court, when the court misunderstands a party's arguments, or when the court overreaches by deciding an issue not properly before it.”). In Frietsch v. Refco, Inc., 56 F.3d 825 (7th Cir. 1995), the Court of Appeals did not question the availability of a motion to reconsider but stated:

It is not the purpose of allowing motions for reconsideration to enable a party to complete presenting his case after the court has ruled against him. Were such a procedure to be countenanced, some lawsuits really might never end, rather than just seeming endless.

56 F.3d at 828; see Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (“A party may not use a motion for reconsideration to introduce new evidence that could have been presented earlier.”); Divane v. Krull Electric Co., 194 F.3d 845, 850 (7th Cir. 1999); LB Credit Corp. v. Resolution Trust Corp., 49 F.3d 1263, 1267 (7th Cir. 1995). Ultimately, a motion for reconsideration is an “extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources.” Global View Ltd. Venture Capital v. Great Central Basin Exploration, 288 F.Supp.2d 482, 483 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (internal quotation omitted).

         West Bend has indicated that Knapp sustained injuries on June 6, 2012, while driving his employer's truck when another vehicle pulled out of a gas station directly in front of him. Knapp received $25, 000.00, the insurance policy limit, in an action against the tortfeasor. Knapp filed a claim against his employer for workers' compensation benefits on November 27, 2012. Thereafter, on March 1, 2013 Knapp's attorney at the time sent written notice indicating Knapp's intention to make a claim for underinsured motorist policy benefits under the West Bend policy.

         West Bend asserts that as of March 1, 2013, it was placed on notice of an existing articulable claim likely to lead to litigation. Thus, any documentation produced after that date was protected under the work-product privilege. However, Knapp contends that the documents withheld prior to the initiation of litigation were prepared in the ordinary course of West Bend's business of investigating and evaluating his claim, and therefore are discoverable.

         The work product doctrine is codified in Federal Rule of Civil ...


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