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Blaj v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 16, 2014

ROLAND BLAJ, Plaintiff,
v.
UNUM LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

ORDER REGARDING APRIL 30, 2014 JOINT DISCOVERY LETTER (Dkt. No. 34)

KANDIS A. WESTMORE, Magistrate Judge.

On March 25, 2014, Defendant Unum Life Insurance filed a motion for protective order. (Dkt. No. 31.) On April 2, 2014, this action was referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore for all discovery purposes. On April 7, 2014, the Court terminated the motion and ordered the parties to meet and confer and to file a joint letter if they were unable to resolve the discovery dispute informally. (Dkt. No. 33.)

On April 30, 2014, the parties filed a joint discovery letter, in which Defendant seeks a protective order against Plaintiff's discovery on the grounds that the district court's de novo review of Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA") actions result in strict discovery limitations. (4/30/2014 Joint Letter, "Joint Letter, " Dkt. No. 34 at 2.)

Upon review of the joint letter, the Court finds that this matter is deemed suitable for disposition without hearing pursuant to Civil L.R. 7-1(b), and GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendant's motion for protective order.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was a procurement manager at Gemfire Corporation until he filed a long-term disability claim ("LTD") with Unum in January 2010 for "severe, intractable migraine headaches." (Joint Letter at 1-2.) In October 2012, Unum terminated Plaintiff's insurance coverage despite an alleged lack of evidence of improvement. (Joint Letter at 2.) Unum contends that its investigation of the claim revealed that Plaintiff was driving his children to school, exercising regularly, and spent two hours per day playing with his children. (Joint Letter at 1.) Based on numerous inconsistencies, and the opinions of peer reviewers, "Unum concluded that Plaintiff's claimed impairment did not prevent him from working." Id. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed an ERISA claim alleging that his disability insurance was improperly terminated. Id.

On February 24, 2014, Plaintiff propounded requests for production of documents, noticed depositions for those Unum employees involved with the claim, and also noticed a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition to Unum. ( See Joint Letter, Exs. 1-3.) On March 25, 2014, Defendant filed a motion for a protective order. (Dkt. No. 31.) Discovery in this matter was referred to the undersigned and the parties were ordered to further meet and confer and file a joint letter if they still required court intervention. On April 30, 2014, the parties filed the joint discovery letter presently before the court.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) governs the process for obtaining a protective order:

A party or any person from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order in the court where the action is pending.... The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action. The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following:
(A) forbidding the disclosure or discovery;
(B) specifying terms, including time and place, for the disclosure or discovery;
...
(D) forbidding inquiry into certain matters, or limiting the scope of disclosure or ...

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