United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
BRIAN C. SHOTTS, Plaintiff,
GEICO GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY D/B/A GEICO, AMONG OTHER NAMES, Defendant.
L. RUSSELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. No. 18)
to which Defendant has filed a response in opposition (Doc.
No. 23). Plaintiff filed a reply and supplemental reply in
support of his position and to clarify which issues remain
for consideration after additional discussions between
counsel. (Doc. Nos. 30, 32). Having considered the
parties' submissions, the Court finds as follows.
Rule of Civil Procedure 26 governs the instant discovery
motion. Rule 26(b) provides in relevant part that
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, considering the
importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount
in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant
information, the parties' resources, the importance of
the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden
or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely
benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not
be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
requested discovery appears relevant, the party objecting to
production has the burden of establishing the lack of
relevance by demonstrating that the request falls outside the
scope set forth in Rule 26(b)(1), or that it is of such
marginal relevance that the potential harm occasioned by
discovery would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of
broad disclosure. Barton v. Tomacek, 2012 WL
4735927, *4 (N.D. Okla. Oct. 3, 2012). Objections to
discovery requests must be stated with specificity; mere
boilerplate objections or the familiar litany of
“overly broad, vague or burdensome, ” without
more, is not sufficient. Leisure Hospitality, Inc. v.
Hunt Properties, Inc., 2010 WL 3522444, * 3 (N.D.Okla.
Sept. 8, 2010); Wyatt v. ADT Sec. Services, Inc.,
2011 WL 1990473, *2 n. 1 (N.D.Okla. May 23, 2011).
Rule 26 as the backdrop the court considers the discovery
requests, which Plaintiff contends relate to his attempt to
recover from Defendant under a theory of bad faith. His claim
is premised on Defendant's failure to provide payment in
the amount Plaintiff believes appropriate for an underinsured
motorist claim. Plaintiff sought discovery on a variety of
topics related to the claims process, including training and
compensation of claims adjusters, and Defendant objected
thereto. As a result, Plaintiff filed the instant motion,
requesting that the Court compel Defendant to provide the
for Production No. 2: Produce all automobile bodily
injury claims procedure training documents or manuals however
named or maintained whether paper, electronic or digital
format for Defendant applicable to UM/UIM claims in Oklahoma
in existence June 14, 2013, up to the date of the filing of
this subject lawsuit.
for Production No. 9: Produce a copy of all rules,
regulations or standards, whether written, electronic or
otherwise, provided to Defendant's claims handlers
relative to handling UM/UIM claims, in existence and used by
you, from June 14, 2013, to the present.
contends the information sought by Requests for Production
Nos. 2 and 9 is not relevant, because the issue in this case
is not whether Defendant violated its own policies and
procedures, but rather whether it violated a duty owed to
Plaintiff as a result of the contract between the two, that
is the insurance policy. Defendant has apparently produced
the table of contents for the “Claims Manual” and
“Claims IQ Training Materials, Chapter 16.”
Plaintiff contends he has not yet received additional
training materials responsive to these two requests.
Court hereby GRANTS the Motion to Compel as it relates to
Requests for Production 2 and 9, although responses to
Request No. 9 may be limited to the period between June 14,
2013 and the date of the filing of this suit rather than the
present day. Although Defendant disputes the relevancy of
such information, the Court disagrees and finds Plaintiff
entitled to production in accordance with his
for Production No. 8 requested that Defendant produce
“copies of any and all documents as defined regarding
incentives (financial or otherwise) to those claims personnel
involved herein at any and all levels of the Defendant's
organization during the time period of June 14, 2013, to the
present.” To the extent Defendant objected on the basis
of attorney-client privilege, it provided no disclosure as
required by Rule 26(b)(5)(A) of “the nature of the
documents, communications, or tangible things not produced or
disclosed.” The Court finds Defendant has failed to
preserve the privilege by failing to fulfill this mandate.
Furthermore, the Court finds that information regarding bonus
payments and incentives is relevant and subject to
discovery. The Court finds, however, that the only
relevant persons with regard to Request for Production No. 8
are Ms. Sigler and Ms. Hensley and that the time is limited
to June 14, 2013 through the filing of this case not the
present day as requested by Plaintiff.
Request for Production No. 3, Plaintiff sought the personnel
files o f any p erso nnel or agent of the Defendant involved
in Plaintiff's UM/UIM claim including training, bonuses,
financial incentives, goals, memos, correspondence,
disciplinary actions and training tests and scores. Defendant
objects on the grounds of relevance and proportionality.
Given that it appears there were two employees, Larissa
Henley and Carrie Sigler, involved in adjusting Mr.
Shotts' claim, the Court finds the proportionality
argument not well taken. Furthermore, the Court finds that
the personnel records of these two women are relevant as they
relate to background, qualifications, training, and job
performance, and the materials should be produced subject to
the September 11, 2017 protective order entered by the
Request for Production No. 11 the Plaintiff sought
information on pricing and underwriting of UM/UIM coverage in
Oklahoma with regard to single vehicle policies. Plaintiff
contends he may be entitled to stacking on his multi-vehicle
policy because although there is only a single premium listed
for his UM/UIM coverage on his multi-vehicle policy, it may
be that he was charged more for such coverage due to having
multiple vehicles. In Spears v. Glens Falls Ins.
Co., 114 P.3d 448 (Okla. 2005), the court considered
whether pre-policy notification that stacking of UM/UIM
insurance was prohibited by the policy was required. The
policy involved therein covered three vehicles, a single
premium was charged for UM/UIM and the inclusion of multiple
vehicles under the UM/UIM coverage did not alter the premium
or result in increased charges. In the instant case Plaintiff
seeks information about whether the cost of UM/UIM coverage
varied based on whether the policy covered more than one
vehicle. The Court finds that Plaintiff is entitled to this
information. However, Request for Production No. 11 seeks
much broader information and information that Plaintiff has
not established as relevant ...