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Peng v. Northwestern Mutual Life Ins. Co.

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 14, 2017

ROBERT C. K. PENG, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO., Defendant.

          ORDER RE DISCOVERY DISPUTE RE: DKT. NOS. 25, 26, 27

          SUSAN ILLSTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this insurance action, plaintiff Robert C. K. Peng alleges claims for breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing against defendant Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company for its handling of his claims for benefits under three “regular occupation” disability insurance policies. Amended Complaint (Dkt. No. 12). Plaintiff seeks inter alia an award of past disability benefits, future disability benefits until his policies terminate, and emotional distress damages. Dkt. No. 24-1 at 5-6. Among other affirmative defenses, defendant alleges that plaintiff “fraudulently misrepresented and or concealed material information in his application for the insurance coverage issued by Northwestern Mutual such that the coverage is subject to rescission.” Answer (Dkt. No. 17). Specifically, defendant claims that plaintiff “denied any psychiatric diagnosis and any mental health treatment in the past ten years” on his February 8, 1996 application for a disability insurance policy. Dkt. No. 26-1 at 2-4.

         Now before the Court is the parties' first discovery dispute, which was discussed during the July 7, 2017 case management conference. Dkt. Nos. 25, 26, 27.[1] Plaintiff seeks to quash or modify several subpoenas served by defendant on non-party Kaiser Permanente.[2] Dkt. No. 25. According to the parties, these subpoenas seek “all psychiatric documents, ” “all psychological, psychotherapy and/or counseling records, ” “all medical records, ” “all medication and prescription records, ” “all communications, ” and “billing and payment records” related to plaintiff from “January 1, 2012 to the present, ” and “from on or prior to February 8, 1996.” Dkt. No. 25 at 2; Dkt. No. 26-1 at 1.

         “[P]re-trial discovery is ordinarily ‘accorded a broad and liberal treatment.'” Shoen v. Shoen, 5 F.3d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir. 1993). “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case . . . . Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). A court must limit the scope of discovery when:

(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or
(iii) the proposed discovery is outside the scope permitted by Rule 26(b)(1).

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C).

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(a)(1)(C), a party may serve upon a non-party a subpoena, commanding the non-party to produce documents. Upon receipt of the subpoena, the non-party may file a motion to quash or modify the subpoena with the issuing court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3); S.E.C. v. CMKM Diamonds, Inc., 656 F.3d 829, 832 (9th Cir. 2011). “Ordinarily a party has no standing to seek to quash a subpoena issued to someone who is not a party to the action, unless the objecting party claims some personal right or privilege with regard to the documents sought.” Crispin v. Christian Audigier, Inc., 717 F.Supp.2d 965, 973 (C.D. Cal. 2010). Under Rule 45(d)(3), the district court must quash or modify a subpoena that:

(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;
(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits specified in Rule 45(c);
(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or
(iv) subjects a person to undue burden.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(3)(A). The party seeking to quash a subpoena bears the “burden of persuasion.” In re Apple Inc., No. 12-mc-80013 JW, 2012 WL 1570043, at *1 (N.D. Cal. May 2, 2012); Moon v. SCP ...


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