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Marks One Car Rental, Inc. v. Farmers Insurance Exchange

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

October 5, 2017

MARKS ONE CAR RENTAL, INC., MARKS ONE LLC, d/b/a/ MARKS ONE COLLISION, and MAHER WAAD, Plaintiffs,
v.
FARMERS INSURANCE EXCHANGE, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE FARMERS' MOTION TO COMPEL THE DEPOSITION OF STEVEN A. HANEY (Doc. 267) [1]

          AVERN COHN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I.

         This is a business tort case. Plaintiffs Marks One Car Rental, Inc., Marks One, LLC, Marks One Collision (collectively Marks One) and Maher Waad (Waad) are suing Farmers Insurance Exchange (Farmers).[2] Plaintiffs make the following claims:

Count I - Tortious Interference with Business Expectancy
Count II - Defamation
Count IV - Civil Conspiracy
Count V - Unlawful Discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981

         Broadly stated, plaintiffs allege that Farmers has defamed plaintiffs to customers and potential customers in their respective fraud investigations of plaintiffs' repair and rental activity. Plaintiffs contend defendants' investigations were unfounded and caused a loss of business. They further contend that certain employees of Farmers used racial slurs and have a racial bias against Waad, an Arab-American.[3]

         Before the Court is Farmers' motion to compel the deposition of Steven Haney. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied without prejudice.

         II.

         The background of Haney's representation of plaintiffs and his relationship with Farmers is set forth in Farmer's motion to disqualify Haney (Doc. 159) and will not be repeated in detail here. Briefly, Haney initially represented plaintiffs when the complaint was filed.[4] Farmers moved to disqualify Haney based upon Haney's prior representation of Farmers in a 2010 insurance investigation involving Waad in which Haney generated a report critical of Waad. Farmers anticipated Haney would be a witness and therefore maintained his representation of plaintiffs was improper. Haney subsequently withdrew from representing plaintiffs before the Court ruled on the motion. (Doc. 174).

         Farmers noticed Haney for deposition. Haney objected. The parties then exchanged correspondence which in part discussed whether Farmers had properly and fully waived the attorney client privilege. Eventually, Farmers filed the instant motion to compel. (Doc. 267). Both Haney and plaintiffs' counsel have filed responses. (Docs. 269, 271). Farmers filed a reply. (Doc. 271).

         Meanwhile, on September 8, 2017, Farmers filed a motion for summary judgment on all of plaintiffs' claims. (Doc. 273). The parties have stipulated that plaintiffs' ...


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