Sharing Protective Orders in Texas
Not surprisingly, insurance companies or corporate defendants rarely like to share.
In many insurance disputes, there are hundreds and even thousands of similarly situated cases. Meaning if you have been wronged in a certain way by an insurance company, it’s likely the case you are not alone. As a result, many different lawsuits are filed across a diversity of jurisdictions. The problem is that in each case, the insurers like to try and prevent plaintiffs (meaning policyholders like you) from sharing your information with other policyholders that may be having the same dispute, and similar litigation, with the same insurer.
In a perfect world, all of this information would be freely shared because, after all, the goal in litigation is to reveal the true facts so that cases can be fairly decided. But insurers fight this, frequently insisting that protective orders be entered that prohibit you from sharing your litigation documents or experiences with other litigants.
In Texas, the law has long been that protective orders should be written in a way to encourage sharing of information. And insurers like State Farm, are not afraid to appeal court orders that force them to share their information with other similarly situated litigants. For example, the Beaumont, Texas Court of Appeals In re State Farm Lloyds, 2003 WL 22149155 (Tex. App-Beaumont 2003) ruled that a trial court’s order permitting such sharing was perfectly appropriate, and cited former Texas Supreme Court precedent. The Texas Supreme Court has stated “the discovery process is often frustrated by the adversarial approach to discovery. The ‘rules of the game’ encourage parties to hinder opponents by forcing them to utilize repetitive and expensive methods to find out the facts. The truth about relevant matters is often kept submerged beneath the surface of glossy denials and formal challenges to requests until an opponent unknowingly utters some magic phrase to cause the facts to rise.” See Garcia v. Peeples, 734 S.W.2d 343 (Tex. 1987).
Sharing protective orders continue to be the law in Texas. Nevertheless, given insurance company’s practices in the field, it’s no surprise some insurers have repeatedly tried to persuade courts to keep the facts in their lawsuits hidden from the public.