Pending for decision before this court are: (1) third party Blanca Lopez's motion for a protective order and to quash a subpoena for documents issued by plaintiff Allstate Insurance Company ("Allstate") to U.C. Davis Medical Center, and for sanctions; (2) third party Blanca Lopez's motion to quash a subpoena for documents issued by Allstate to attorney Hank Greenblatt and his law firm (Dreyer, Babich, Buccola, Callaham & Wood), and for sanctions; and (3) Allstate's cross-motion to compel compliance with the subpoenas. Dckt. Nos. 10, 12, 21. The matters were heard on this court's law and motion calendar on September 2, 2009. Attorney Michael Barns appeared on behalf of Allstate; attorney Michael Jones appeared on behalf of defendant Antonio Arellano;*fn1 and attorney Hank Greenblatt appeared on behalf of Blanca Lopez.
Allstate filed this action in December 2008, seeking reimbursement from defendant, its insured, for a settlement payment it made to third party Blanca Lopez. Compl., Dckt. No. 2. According to Allstate's complaint, Jose Lopez and his wife, Blanca, went to defendant's home on June 10, 2008 for some type of chiropractic treatment, and during the course of the treatment, Mr. Lopez suffered a tear in, and bleeding from, his left vertebral artery, causing loss of feeling in his extremities, loss of vision, and breathing difficulty. Id. ¶¶ 6, 7. Mr. Lopez became unconscious, and was taken to the University of California Davis Medical Center, where he was placed on life support and subsequently died on June 12, 2008. Id. ¶ 8.
According to the complaint, Mrs. Lopez, through her attorney Hank Greenblatt, notified defendant that she witnessed her husband's death and that she held defendant responsible for the couple's injuries. Id. ¶ 9. On October 7, 2008, Mrs. Lopez, through her counsel, demanded that Allstate tender the applicable liability coverage limit of defendant's homeowner's insurance policy to settle her claim. Id. ¶ 10. Allstate accepted the settlement demand and, on or about December 1, 2008, paid Mrs. Lopez $300,000 to settle her claim. Id. ¶ 13. Allstate contends that it believed defendant's chiropractic services were excluded from its coverage as business and professional activities, but paid the demand under a reservation of rights to cap defendant's liability, and then brought this action for declaratory relief and reimbursement. Dckt. 21 at 4.
On May 7, 2009, Allstate's counsel Norman Lau spoke with Mr. Greenblatt over the telephone to schedule a deposition of Blanca Lopez and to discuss serving her with a subpoena. Lau Decl., Dckt. No. 22, ¶ 2. According to Mr. Lau, Mr. Greenblatt responded that Mrs. Lopez had moved to Mexico and it would be extremely difficult to contact her. Id.
On June 1, 2009, Mr. Lau issued subpoenas to Mr. Greenblatt and his law firm (the "Greenblatt/Dreyer Babich subpoena"), and to U.C. Davis Medical Center (the "U.C. Davis subpoena"), requesting the production of various documents on June 11, 2009. Id. ¶ 3. That same day, Mr. Greenblatt received notice of the Greenblatt/Dreyer Babich subpoena, and attempted to contact Mr. Lau to object to the subpoena. Greenblatt Decl. in Supp. of Mot. to Quash Greenblatt/Dreyer Babich Subpoena, Dckt. No. 13, ¶ 6. Then, on June 8, 2009, Mr. Greenblatt sent a letter to Mr. Lau and a formal objection to the subpoena. Id., ¶ 6, Ex. F. On July 10, 2009, Mr. Lau sent a letter to Mr. Greenblatt, indicating that the objections to the subpoena were without merit and demanding production by July 17, 2009. Id., ¶ 6, Ex. G. That same day, Mr. Greenblatt sent another letter to Mr. Lau, again objecting to the subpoena and requesting a phone call from Mr. Lau. Id., ¶ 6, Ex. H.
On July 13, 2009, Mr. Greenblatt received notice of the U.C. Davis subpoena. Greenblatt Decl. in Supp. of Mot. to Quash U.C. Davis Subpoena, Dckt. No. 11, ¶ 6. That same day, Mr. Greenblatt sent a letter to Mr. Lau, objecting to the subpoena as overbroad and violative of Mr. Lopez's privacy rights. Id. On July 14, 2009, Mr. Lau sent a letter to Mr. Greenblatt, clarifying that Allstate only sought documents relating to the underlying claim made by Mrs. Lopez. Lau Decl. ¶ 6.
On July 20, 2009, Mr. Greenblatt, on behalf of Mrs. Lopez, filed a motion for a protective order and to quash the U.C. Davis subpoena, and for sanctions, and a motion to quash the Greenblatt/Dreyer Babich subpoena, and for sanctions. On August 19, 2009, Allstate filed an opposition to the motions and a cross-motion to compel compliance with the subpoenas. After receiving Allstate's opposition to the motion to quash, Mr. Greenblatt contacted Mr. Lau, as well as Allstate's lead counsel, Michael Barnes, to meet and confer further regarding the motions. The attorneys had multiple phone conversations but could not resolve the disputes. See Dckt. Nos. 27, 28.
A. Allstate's Subpoena to U.C. Davis Medical Center
Blanca Lopez moves for a protective order and to quash the U.C. Davis subpoena, which seeks:
Any and all medical records, notes and charts, files, admission reports, discharge reports, diagrams, diagnoses, patient reports, evaluations, tests and laboratory results, X-rays, photographs, ultrasounds, summaries, records of visits, records of treatment, handwritten notes, billing records, records of payment, records of insurance, correspondence, and any other information pertaining to the medical condition and/or treatment of JOSE LOPEZ (DOB 4/29/1944).
Lau Decl., Ex. A. In its "definitions" section, the subpoena defines JOSE LOPEZ as the Jose Lopez "who was admitted to the U.C. Davis Medical Center on June 10, 2008 for emergency medical treatment and whose date of death was June 12, 2008." Id.
Mrs. Lopez contends that (1) the subpoena is overbroad and violates her and her deceased husband's right to privacy, since the time limitation on the subpoena is only in the definitions section and not in the actual document request; and (2) the subpoena exceeds the scope of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26, since Allstate already has the applicable death certificate, coroner's report and autopsy findings, and it is unclear what ...