During the EUO, opposing counsel marked Bubba‘s personal inventory list as an exhibit and said he wanted to go over some of the items destroyed in the fire. EUOs are a good tool for finding out information and evaluating the credibility of the insured. On its face, Bubba’s contents list probably caused an “inquiring mind” to want to know more. There were only 9 pages, but Bubba had more handguns than socks, even counting the ones that didn’t match. Shotguns took almost 2 pages, the rifles and semi-autos used almost another 6 pages. Most homeowners’ policies have maximum limits for guns and jewelry. The Wewoka Worldwide policy limited guns to $2,500.00. And it was a safe bet Bubba wasn’t claiming any jewelry.
I heard the “tall building” lawyer say, “You know sir that your policy has a $2,500.00 limit on your guns?” Bubba sounded off like he was back in boot camp, “NO SIR, I bought full coverage for my guns, sir!” I couldn’t help laughing when Bubba started telling him “his guns wuz covered under the fishin’ ” part of the policy. I amused myself listening to the conversation until I saw opposing counsel reach into his brief case and pull out one of those big bottles of Tums. I decided to help him out just a little and said. “I think Bubba might be talking about his inland marine floater for coverage on the guns.” Bubba’s agent had helped Bubba by covering the guns under a floater. Bubba just naturally associated “floater” and “marine” with “fishin'”.
After the “fishing” issue, the EUO began to smooth out for a bit. The “tall building” lawyer tried to smile a lot and act friendly. He was letting Bubba set himself up for ways to deny the claim. Like a good insurance defense lawyer, he was doing his job. One strategy some defense lawyers use is to act low key and get the witness talking. With Bubba, there wasn’t much effort to getting him to talk. Bubba never learned when was the right time to speak and when to just be quiet.
The EUO finally ended after about 6 hours. It was a long day! The “tall building” lawyer explained Bubba was going to receive a copy of the transcript and be able to make any necessary corrections to the sworn testimony. Wewoka Worldwide Insurance wanted Bubba’s signature on the transcript verifying everything he said. If it turned out Bubba didn’t tell the truth, then it could be used as evidence of false swearing against Bubba.
One significant difference between an EUO and a deposition is the “read and sign” part. In depositions, witnesses commonly waive the right to read and review the transcript. In an EUO, most insurance policies require the witness to read and sign. Bubba’s going to “let me do the readin’ ” of his transcript before he signs. Lucky me!