United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY D. DeGIUSTI CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate
Protective Order and Engage in Discovery [Doc. No. 91].
Although no procedural rule is cited, Plaintiff seeks relief
from a prior order granting motions for protective orders
filed by Defendants pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1),
“without prejudice to any future deposition notice
warranted by the circumstances.” See 12/28/18
Order [Doc. No. 81] at 7. Plaintiff asserts that under the
current circumstances - where a judgment has been entered and
he has filed a motion for an award of attorney fees under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) - he should be permitted to conduct
discovery similar to what he previously attempted by
deposition notices issued pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6)
in October 2018. See Pl.'s Superseding Notice
Corporate Dep. Carlisle Corp. [Doc. No. 70]; Pl.'s Notice
Corporate Dep. Standard Ins. Co. [Doc. No. 71]. Plaintiff
seeks to inquire into the facts surrounding an amendment of
the group life insurance policy governing his ERISA claims,
which caused Defendant Standard Life Insurance Company
(“Standard”) to issue a benefit payment during
the pendency of this case. Plaintiff asserts that he now
needs this information to prove he should recover attorney
fees under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1) and Hardt v.
Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., 560 U.S. 242
have responded in opposition to the Motion, which is fully
briefed. See Carlisle Corp.'s Resp. Br. [Doc.
No. 95]; Standard's Resp. Br. [Doc. No. 99]; Pl's
Reply Brs. [Doc. Nos. 98, 100]. Neither defendant disputes
that the information Plaintiff seeks is relevant to his
pending fee claim. They instead argue that a declaration
previously submitted by Defendant Carlisle Corporation
(“Carlisle”) “give[s] Plaintiff all that he
needs, ” referring to the Declaration of Michael
Robertson [Doc. No. 72-1]. See Carlisle's Resp.
Br. at 1; see also Standard's Resp. Br. at 2
(“Plaintiff has already obtained the information he
purportedly seeks”). The Court disagrees. Mr.
Robertson's conclusory declaration leaves many questions
unanswered, and does not rule out the possibility that this
lawsuit was a catalyst for Defendants' amendment of the
group policy, as argued by Plaintiff. See Pl.'s
Mot. Att'y Fees [Doc. No. 92] at 2-3. Further, the Court
finds no basis to deny Plaintiff's request to conduct
discovery relevant to his fee claim, as authorized by
unclear from Plaintiff's Motion and briefs, however,
precisely what discovery he proposes to conduct. Defendants
previously sought protection from Plaintiff's Rule
30(b)(6) notices on several grounds, and in their current
briefs, both characterize Plaintiff's proposed discovery
as oppressive. The Court finds in these arguments no
basis to deny Plaintiff the discovery he seeks, but the Court
agrees that any discovery should be “proportional to
the needs of the case.” See Fed. R. Civ. P.
examination of Plaintiff's prior deposition notices, the
Court finds that they included overly broad requests for
information and documents. The Court also notes that the
parties previously disagreed about the location of the
depositions, specifically, whether Defendants' corporate
representatives should be required to come to Oklahoma. In
his current briefs, however, Plaintiff expresses a
willingness to compromise, for example, “to consider
remote depositions (Skype, FaceTime or a host of other
options offered by well[-]equipped court reporters).”
See Reply Br. to Carlisle's Resp. at 6.
Plaintiff also suggests some discovery might be avoided by a
joint stipulation of facts. See Reply Br. to
Standard's Resp. at 2. The Court would encourage the
parties to explore these possibilities. The Court would also
encourage Plaintiff's counsel to consider carefully what
information he needs to support the pending fee motion and to
issue deposition notices tailored to meet that need. Further,
before seeking judicial assistance in resolving any
disagreements regarding further discovery, counsel are
reminded of the informal conference requirement of LCvR37.1.
to these conditions, the Court finds that Plaintiff should be
permitted to issue new Rule 30(b)(6) notices for depositions
of Defendants regarding the insurance policy amendment.
THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion Vacate Protective
Order and Engage in Discovery [Doc. No. 91] is GRANTED, as
set forth herein.
FURTHER ORDERED that all discovery related to Plaintiff's
Motion to Tax Attorney's Fees [Doc. No. 92] shall be
completed within 45 days from the date of this Order.
Plaintiff may file a supplemental brief in support of his
Motion within 21 days after the close of discovery, and
Defendants may respond to any supplemental filing within 21
days thereafter. Unless otherwise ordered, no further briefs
 Standard also purports to adopt its
prior arguments in support of a protective order.
See Standard's Resp. Br. at 2. Carlisle goes
further and asserts that if Plaintiff is allowed to proceed
with discovery, “he should be compelled to do so at his
own expense” and “should be required to pay for
the time and expense of its employees and attorneys.”
See Carlisle's Resp. Br. ...