2,022 Ranch, LLC v. Superior Court, 113 Cal. App. 4th 1377 (2003)

A purchaser of land (2,022 Ranch, LLC) sued its title insurer (Chicago Title) for breach of contract and bad faith. During the course of the litigation, 2,022 Ranch sought documents from Chicago Title’s claims file and also to depose claims handlers and their supervisors concerning Chicago Title’s handling of and refusal to pay 2,022 Ranch’s claim. Chicago Title asserted the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product on the ground that some of the information sought would reveal confidential communications between its in-house claims adjusters (who were also attorneys) and Chicago Title concerning 2,022 Ranch’s claim. The trial court adopted the discovery referee’s recommendation, which was to deny 2,022 Ranch’s motion to compel production of all but two of the documents and all of the deposition questions in dispute. The Court of Appeal issued a peremptory writ of mandate ordering the trial court to vacate its order denying the motion to compel and further ordering the trial court to conduct a particularized review of the deposition questions and documents at issue to determine whether the dominant purpose of each communication was to reflect a factual investigation (i.e., not privileged) or to render legal advice and/or memorialize an attorney’s legal impressions, conclusions and opinions (i.e., privileged/work product).