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Superior Court of Pennsylvania
June 25, 2021, Decided; June 25, 2021, Filed
No. 1597 WDA 2018
[*455] OPINION BY STABILE, J.:
Appellant, Erie Insurance Exchange ("Erie"), appeals from the October 19, 2018 order entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County directing, inter alia, that Erie submit claims file materials to the trial court for an in camera review. Erie contends the trial court erred in ordering production of materials protected by the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine and asserts this Court has jurisdiction to hear this appeal from a collateral order under Pa.R.A.P. 313. Following review, we quash the appeal.
A review of the record reveals that Appellee, Helen Fisher ("Helen"), allegedly sustained injuries on July 19, 2013, due to the negligence of Bobbie Jo Green ("Green"). Helen and her husband, William (collectively "the Fishers"), filed suit against Green, alleging Green parked her truck in a bowling alley parking lot, leaving her child unattended in the vehicle. After [**2] a period of time, the truck began drifting downhill in the parking lot. Helen sustained injuries when she fell while trying to move out the path of the truck. See Complaint, 1/29/16, ¶¶ 6-13. Both the Fishers and Green were insured by Erie.1
The Fishers also asserted an underinsured motorists ("UIM") claim against Erie. By letter dated August 24, 2015, Erie advised the Fishers' counsel that the UIM file had been forwarded "to assist Erie in the liability investigation and damage evaluation. . . . Specifically Arthur J. Leonard of Robb, Leonard & Mulvihill has been assigned." See Appellees' Response to Rule to Show Cause, 12/19/18, at Exhibit A. The Fishers' counsel received a letter dated September 3, 2015 from Arthur J. Leonard, Esquire ("Leonard"), of Robb [*456] Leonard Mulvihill, LLP, indicating in part, "I have been requested by [Erie] to assist in the investigation and evaluation of the [UIM] claim that you have presented on behalf of your clients, Helen and William Fisher." Id. at Exhibit B. In his letter, Leonard advised the Fishers' counsel that he was seeking additional documentation relating to Helen's injuries and was interested in obtaining the documentation in advance [**3] of taking the Fishers' depositions. Leonard explained:
The purpose of this examination and securement of these records is to assist in aiding Erie in the evaluation of your client's claim for both liability and damage. The purpose of the examination under oath is to investigate the happening of the incident as well as to evaluate your client's condition and the affect this incident may have had on her and her husband.
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258 A.3d 451 *; 2021 Pa. Super. LEXIS 393 **; 2021 PA Super 130; 2021 WL 2622486
HELEN FISHER AND WILLIAM FISHER, HER HUSBAND, Appellees v. ERIE INSURANCE EXCHANGE A/K/A ERIE, Appellant
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the Order Entered October 19, 2018. In the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, Civil Division at No: 2016 GN 298.
in camera, documents, trial court, attorney-client, disclosure, privilege log, privileged, inspection, discovery, asserting, requests, directing, prong, log, collateral, ordering, collateral order, discoverable, collateral order doctrine, work product doctrine, privileged material, requested documents, communications, applicability, parties, shifts, immediately appealable, appellate review, properly invoked, burden of proof
Civil Procedure, Discovery, Privileged Communications, Attorney-Client Privilege, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Collateral Order Doctrine, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Questions of Fact & Law, Interlocutory Orders, Work Product Doctrine, Scope of Protection, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Privileges, Attorney-Client Privilege, Scope, Methods of Discovery, Inspection & Production Requests, Waiver, Relevance, Relevant Evidence, Exceptions