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D.T. v. NECA/IBEW Family Medical Care Plan

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

November 21, 2019

D.T., by and through his parents and guardians, K.T. and W.T., individually, on behalf of similarly situated individuals, and on behalf of the NECA/IBEW Family Medical Care Plan, Plaintiff,
v.
NECA/IBEW FAMILY MEDICAL CARE PLAN, THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE NECA/IBEW FAMILY MEDICAL CARE PLAN, SALVATORE J. CHILIA, ROBERT P. KLEIN, DARRELL L. MCCUBBINS, GEARY HIGGINS, LAWRENCE J. MOTER, JR., KEVIN TIGHE, JERRY SIMS, AND ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF NECA/IBEW FAMILY MEDICAL CARE PLAN, Defendants.

          ORDER ON PARTIES' DISCOVERY MOTIONS

          Honorable Richard A. Jones, United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Non-Party Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc.'s Motion to Quash Plaintiff's Subpoena for a Rule 30(b)(6) Deposition (Dkt. # 62), Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order Regarding Plaintiff's Subpoena Duces Tecum to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia (Dkt. # 74), and Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order Regarding Plaintiff's Subpoena for a Rule 30(b)(6) Deposition (Dkt. # 73).

         For the reasons that follow, BCBSGa's Motion to Quash is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Dkt. # 62. Defendants' Motions for a Protective Order are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Dkt. ## 73, 74.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court previously set forth the factual background of this case and will not repeat it here. On July 31, 2019, Plaintiffs served a subpoena for 30(b)(6) testimony and a subpoena duces tecum to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia (“BCBSGa”) requesting information regarding BCBSGa's administration of the NECA/IBEW Family Medical Care Plan (“FMCP”) claims system and the Developmental Delay Exclusion. See Dkt. # 67, Exs. A-B, Dkt. # 74, Ex. 5. On August 14, 2019, BCBSGa responded with objections to the subpoena duces tecum and refused to produce any documents. Dkt. # 67-1, Ex. J. BCBSGa also refused to produce a witness.

         The parties represent that they have met and conferred on multiple occasions and were unable to reach an agreement. Dkt. # 67 at ¶ 7; Dkt. # 62 at 5. On August 22, BCBSGa moved to quash the 30(b)(6) subpoena. Dkt. # 62. Defendants subsequently moved for protective orders related to both BCBSGa subpoenas. Dkt. ## 73 and 74.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court has broad discretion to control discovery. Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Avila v. Willits Envtl. Remediation Trust, 633 F.3d 828, 833 (9th Cir. 2011); In re Sealed Case, 856 F.2d 268, 271 (D.C. Cir. 1988). That discretion is guided by several principles. Most importantly, the scope of discovery is broad. A party must respond to any discovery request that is not privileged and 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

         A. BCBSGa's Motion to Quash

         Under Rule 45, any party may serve a subpoena commanding a nonparty “to attend and testify” or to “produce designated documents.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(a)(1)(A)(iii). Any such subpoena is subject to the relevance requirements set forth in Rule 26(b). See Moon v. SCP Pool Corp., 232 F.R.D. 633, 636-37 (C.D. Cal. 2005). If requested, a court may quash or modify the subpoena for a variety of reasons, including that the subpoena “subjects a person to undue burden.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c)(3)(A). A party objecting to a subpoena served on a non-party must move to quash. See Moon, at 636. The party who moves to quash a subpoena has the burden of persuasion. Id. at 637.

         i. Topic 1

         BCBSGa argues that Topic 1 is overly burdensome and seeks information that is irrelevant or otherwise available in the Administrative Services Agreements between FMCP and Anthem/BCBSGa. The Court disagrees. Topic 1 requests, among other things, information regarding how the diagnosis codes for the Developmental Delay Exclusion were selected including changes over time and communications between Anthem and FMCP regarding the Developmental Delay Exclusion. The Court does not find these requests irrelevant, duplicative, or overly burdensome. In discovery disputes where relevance is in doubt, the Court should be permissive in allowing discovery. Gonzales v. Google, Inc., 234 F.R.D. 674, 681 (N.D. Cal. 2006). Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

         Central to Plaintiff's case is FMCP's Developmental Delay Exclusion. Here, Plaintiff has provided evidence that Anthem/BCBSGa played a substantive role in administering the Developmental Delay Exclusion under Anthem's claims system. See Dkt. # 67-1, Exs. Q, D, R. The fact that Plaintiff has already been provided with copies of the agreements between BCBSGa and FMCP is not dispositive. Plaintiff still has the right to ask BCBSGa about the agreements, communications BCBSGa may have had with FMCP regarding the agreements and the Developmental Delay Exclusion, and BCBSGa's involvement in the administration of the Developmental Delay Exclusion. Accordingly, BCBSGa's Motion to Quash Topic 1 is DENIED.

         ii. T ...


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