One month after securing insurance coverage from Allstate Indemnity Co. for their Chevrolet Blazer, Florida residents Joaquin and Paulina Ruiz purchased an Oldsmobile Cutlass. They instructed their Allstate agent to add that vehicle to the policy. The agent did so, but in the process mistakenly deleted the Blazer. The Ruizes received no notice that the Blazer was no longer covered under the policy. Joaquin was later involved in an accident while driving the Blazer. When the Ruizes submitted a claim for collision coverage, Allstate denied payment, asserting that the Blazer was no longer covered under the policy. The Ruizes filed suit, alleging that the agent and Allstate had been negligent in deleting the Blazer from the policy and that Allstate had engaged in bad faith and unfair claim settlement practices in violation of a Florida law. After the filing of the lawsuit, Allstate admitted its obligation to provide collision coverage on the Blazer. The cause of action for bad faith and unfair claim settlement practices remained pending, however. In connection with that cause of action, the Ruizes sought discovery of certain documents, including Allstate's claim and investigative file and materials, Allstate's internal manuals, and the agent's file regarding the bad faith claim. When Allstate refused to provide the requested documents, the Ruizes filed a motion asking that the court order Allstate to provide them. Allstate argued that the requested materials constituted work product and thus were exempt from disclosure. (Work product is a term used to describe documents and materials prepared by an attorney and his or her client in anticipation of litigation. In general, work product is not subject to discovery.) Were the Ruizes entitled to the requested documents and materials, or was Allstate correct in its argument that it should not have to provide them to the Ruizes?
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