Insurance Company Investigation Limited in Boston Suburb House Fire

In the Boston suburb of Natick, Massachusetts, a 2009 house fire caused serious damage. Fidelity National Insurance Company refused to pay the claim, and the home owners have been fighting in court every since. Boston Attorney Neil Burns has seen this scenario many times, and has successfully fought insurance companies in order to protect the rights of his clients.

The judge in the case in Natick, Massachusetts recently ruled that the home owners were entitled to a protective order, barring the insurer from conducting unreasonable discovery. The homeowners, or plaintiff’s, filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the defendant insurance company to compel payment of a claim they brought under their homeowners’ policy. During the course of the case, the plaintiff sought to prevent the defendant from conducting unreasonable discovery and the judge ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to a protective order.

The judge noted that “[C]ertain of [defendant] Fidelity’s requests, i.e., information regarding substance abuse or applications for public assistance, are completely irrelevant at this juncture, given the complete dearth of evidence to establish that the fire that affected the plaintiffs’ home was anything but accidental. Since December 15, 2009, the sole evidence pertaining to the source and origin of the fire indicates that it was simply an unfortunate event, and there is no credible information pointing to anything untoward about the plaintiffs’ claim.

“As Fidelity has not offered any information to counter the Natick fire investigator’s report that the fire appears to have been accidental, the court concludes that Fidelity’s requests are unduly burdensome and serve no purpose other than to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the plaintiffs. … While Fidelity maintains that the requested documents and examinations under oath are necessary in order to complete its investigation into the plaintiffs’ claims, it has not made even a minimal showing that further examination is likely to substantiate its allusions that the plaintiffs intentionally caused the fire. … Whatever private suspicions Fidelity may harbor, they are not sufficient to justify Fidelity’s dragnet of every aspect of the plaintiffs’ personal lives. Because the court can discern no good-faith basis for Fidelity’s assertion that additional inquiry into the plaintiffs’ highly personal affairs is ‘reasonably required,’ a protective order is appropriate to prevent Fidelity from abusing its contractual and statutory right to discovery. …”

The case cited above is: Beck, et al. v. Fidelity National Insurance Co. (Muse, J.) (Superior Court) (Civil Action No. 10-01004) (April 1, 2010).