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Hoyme v. Allied Property and Casualty Ins. Co.

December 1, 2009

NEAL HOYME, PLAINTIFF
v.
ALLIED PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INS. CO., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Veronica L. Duffy United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Neal Hoyme seeks an order compelling discovery to his first set of interrogatories and first requests for production. [Docket No. 22]. Defendant Allied Property and Casualty Insurance Co. (hereinafter "Allied") opposes the motion. [Docket No. 27]. The motion was referred to this magistrate judge for resolution by the Honorable Jeffrey L. Viken, United States District Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). [Docket No. 35]. As discussed in further detail below, Mr. Hoyme's motion to compel is granted.

FACTS

The facts, insofar as they are pertinent to the present motion, are as follows. On June 13, 2002, Mr. Hoyme was involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving a truck for his employer, Mac's Contracting. Mr. Hoyme was ejected from the dump truck he was driving and sustained injuries to his shoulders. At the time of Mr. Hoyme's accident, Allied provided workers' compensation insurance coverage to Mac's Contracting. Over a period of months, Mr. Hoyme sought various treatments for his injuries from several different medical professionals. The parties disagreed as to whether Allied was obligated to compensate Mr. Hoyme for medical bills incurred while he sought treatment for his injuries, and Mr. Hoyme ultimately brought the present action against Allied in Pennington County, South Dakota, on October 14, 2008. In his complaint, Mr. Hoyme alleges bad faith, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and vexatious refusal to pay on the part of Allied. On November 14, 2008, Allied removed the case from circuit court to this federal court. See Docket No. 1.

Mr. Hoyme served Allied with discovery requests on June 4, 2009. Allied provided partial responses and its objections on September 3, 2009. See Docket Nos. 23-1, 23-2. Mr. Hoyme asserts that Allied has not provided complete responses to certain of his discovery requests and has yet to produce the information sought in others. Docket Nos. 24, 32. Allied argues that it has fully complied with discovery as to Mr. Hoyme's interrogatory number 4, and that the remaining discovery requests seek information that is privileged, irrelevant to the claim at issue, and unlikely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Docket No. 27, at page 1.

DISCUSSION

A. Good Faith Certification

Pursuant to D.S.D. Local Rule 37.1 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 37, Mr. Hoyme certifies that he contacted Allied prior to filing the instant motion to compel and attempted in good faith to resolve the parties' discovery disputes. Allied does not challenge this. Thus, the court finds that the good faith requirements of Local Rule 37.1 and Federal Rule 37 have been met.

B. Interrogatory Requests

1. Interrogatory No. 4: Medical Bills Denied

Mr. Hoyme's fourth interrogatory requested that Allied: List with specificity all medical bills presented by or on behalf of Plaintiff that you denied for any reason, and for each such denial, state:

a. The name of each person involved in denying each bill;

b. The basis for each such denial;

c. Each and every fact you relied upon in determining to withhold payment of any portion of Plaintiffs claim. For each such fact:

i. Identify each person who possesses knowledge relating to that fact;

ii. Identify each writing relating to each fact;

iii. Identify the present custodian of any writing;

iv. The date that you became aware of each fact;

v. The means by which you became aware of such fact. Docket No. 24.

In response, Allied apparently issued some 3500 pages and "refer[red] to the claims file as reflecting its decisions on medical payments and reasoning underlying those decisions." Docket No. 23-2, at page 3. Allied insists that it has fully complied with this interrogatory, in that the pages it produced "reflect the medical bills received by Allied and the action taken thereon," as well as "any reasoning underlying the actions taken on [Mr. Hoyme's] medical bills." Docket No. 27, at page 7.

However, it is unclear whether all or some of the 3500 pages Allied produced constitutes the claims file. Allied did not list the medical bills it denied which were presented by or on behalf of Mr. Hoyme, did not name the persons responsible for denying the bills, did not explain the basis for any denials, and mentioned none of the facts upon which it relied in denying payment of the bills, nor any information relating to those facts. Instead, Allied produced thousands of pages and provided a vague answer that included literally none of the information sought, but would require Mr. Hoyme to sift through the pages and speculate as to what information contained therein is responsive to his request. Allied states that Mr. Hoyme is "free to examine and utilize that information to prove his case as he sees fit." Docket No. 27, at pages 7-8. ...


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