Read the following examples reflectively, and you will see holes or crevices in the answers.  Stop for a moment—but only a moment—when this happens and ask yourself what to ask next. These examples arose in insurance cases but there is no difference for other sorts of cases in this regard.

Example #1:

Q:        When did you start selling products for the XYZ Corporation?

A:        I’m not sure about the exact date.  I think it was March maybe of 2001

Example #2 (assume that the deponent works for an insurance company as a claims adjuster):

Q:        Have you ever seen any types of claims manual to assist people handling claims and doing their work?
A:        I have not.

Example #3:
Q:        Do you ever recall working on any matters involving the XYZ Corporation?
A:        Not really. Not really.

Exampe #4:
Q:        Do you recall any work you have done for companies related to the ABC Corporation, or any of its predecessors?
A:        I do not have any independent recollection.

Example #5:
Q.        I realize that the American Insurance Syndicate is a big company, or set of companies, so I want to know whether all claims coming to it–thinking of the group in a singular way–get sent to the American Insurance Adjustment Company, its more or less universal adjuster?
A:        I believe that may be correct.

Example #6a:
Q:        Have you had an opportunity to read Mr. Smith’s deposition in preparation for this deposition?
A:        No.

Example #6b:
Q:        Have you had an opportunity to review Exhibit 7 in preparation for your deposition today?
A.        No.

Example #7:
Q:        Do you know the name of the in-house counsel who reviewed the settlement agreement to try to help determine its meaning?
A:        I’m not sure who reviewed it.  [Nothing else was asked.]

Example #8:
Q:        Do you recall discussing the contract and issues related to it with anyone other than Mr. Smith?
A:        At this time, I just don’t recall who else was there at the meeting.

Example #9:
Q:        Did you sell the product to the plaintiffs?
A:        Yes.
Q:        Can you describe the meeting?
A:        I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember some.
Q:        Please described the sales meeting.
A:        I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened.

Q:        Okay.  Tell me what the normal process would be.
A:        Here’s a general description. . . .

Example #10:  (This case involved health insurance.  The applicant for the insurance failed to mention in the application that he suffered from colitis.  He was put in the hospital for that problem.  He died in the hospital from pneumonia.  The internal physician at the health insurer indicated that the two conditions were not related.)  The following witness is a claims adjuster:
Q:        Did you conclude that the bills that were the result of the pneumonia were not to pay?
A:        That wasn’t my decision.
Q:        But you agreed with that decision didn’t you?
Opposing Counsel:  Objection, form.
Q:        Or did you?
A:        No.
Q:        You did agree with the decision or you did not agree with the decision?
A:        Do not.
Q:        You did not agree with the decision?
A:        No.
Q:        Why not?
A:        Because colitis is severe.  It put him in the hospital.  It is possible for someone in a hospital to contract pneumonia.  Thus, even though the pneumonia was not the initial cause of his hospitalization.  It was the cause of his death.
Q:        So you do agree with the decision to deny the claim as a whole?
A:        Yes.

Originally posted on 10/23/2014 @ 4:51 pm

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc. (530)

One of Texas's leading insurance scholars, Michael Sean Quinn is a past chair of the Insurance Section of the State Bar of Texas and has a broad legal practice.

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