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Court Orders Parties To Develop Sampling Protocol For Claims Information

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v. Ace Am. Reinsurance Co., 2006 WL 3771090 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 22, 2006)

In this reinsurance case, plaintiff sought an order compelling defendant to produce certain claim information. Defendant opposed the motion partly on the basis of undue burden. It explained that, although it processed thousands of claims, its computer system was incapable of segregating claims by the amount of the claim, the type of claim, the identity of the cedent, or the reason the claim may have been denied. The court criticized the argument, stating: “A sophisticated reinsurer that operates a multimillion dollar business is entitled to little sympathy for utilizing an opaque data storage system, particularly when, by the nature of its business, it can reasonably anticipate frequent litigation.” At the same time, the court acknowledged that a search of defendant’s entire database was infeasible in light of the tremendous volume of material accumulated. Accordingly, the court ordered the parties to propose a sampling protocol to obtain examples of claims files in which issues similar to those presented in the case were addressed. In order to facilitate that process, the court further ordered that counsel could take the depositions of persons familiar with defendant’s data storage system. Finally, the court ordered that, to the extent that defendant objected to any sampling proposal advanced by Zurich, it would be required to support its objections with specific evidence of the cost and burden involved.