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Texas Disposal Systems, Inc. v. FCCI Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

September 27, 2019

TEXAS DISPOSAL SYSTEMS, INC., Plaintiff
v.
FCCI INSURANCE COMPANY AND ARCH SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY,

          ORDER

          SUSAN HIGHTOWER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before this Court are Plaintiff’s Opposed Motion to Compel Against Defendant Arch Specialty Insurance Company, filed on August 6, 2019 (Dkt. No. 41); Plaintiff’s Request for Oral Argument on its Opposed Motion to Compel, filed on August 20, 2019 (Dkt. No. 50); Plaintiff’s Motion to Permit Depositions After Discovery Deadline, filed on September 20, 2019 (Dkt. No. 56); and the parties’ various response and reply briefs. On September 23, 2019, the District Court referred the above motions to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for resolution pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, and Rule 1(c) of Appendix C of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (“Local Rules”).

         I. Background

         On August 17, 2018, Plaintiff Texas Disposal Systems, Inc. (“TDS”) filed this breach of insurance contract lawsuit against its insurers FCCI Insurance Company (“FCCI”) and Arch Specialty Insurance Company (“Arch”) (collectively, “Defendants”). TDS contends that FCCI prematurely terminated its duty to defend TDS in an underlying wrongful death lawsuit brought against TDS. TDS also alleges that Arch, its secondary insurer, assumed the defense of the underlying lawsuit but later refused to defend TDS in the lawsuit. Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges breach of contract claims against both Defendants and additional claims against Arch, including violations of the Texas Insurance Code and the common-law duty of good faith and fair dealing and a request for declaratory judgment.

         TDS has filed the instant Motion to Compel seeking to compel production of certain documents in Arch’s possession that it alleges are central to its claims. TDS also asks the Court to order Arch to provide additional information about former Arch employee Julie Tucker’s medical condition and to provide TDS with dates for her deposition. In addition, TDS has filed a Motion to Permit Depositions after the discovery deadline in this case.

         Because the Court finds that oral argument is unnecessary in this case, Plaintiff’s Request for Oral Argument (Dkt. No. 50) is DENIED. The Court makes the following rulings with regard to the discovery motions.

         II. Analysis

         A. Legal Standards

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) provides that “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The scope of discovery is broad. Crosby v. La. Health Serv. & Indem. Co., 647 F.3d 258, 262 (5th Cir. 2011). “A discovery request is relevant when the request seeks admissible evidence or ‘is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.’” Id. (quoting Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petrol. Co., 392 F.3d 812, 820 (5th Cir. 2004)).

         When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable by claiming that the information is privileged, the party must: “(i) expressly make the claim; and (ii) describe the nature of the documents, communications, or tangible things not produced or disclosed – and do so in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will enable other parties to assess the claim.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(5)(A).

         After a party has attempted in good faith to obtain discovery without court action, that party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). The party resisting discovery must show how each discovery request is not relevant or otherwise objectionable. McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel, P.C. v. Quarles, 894 F.2d 1482, 1485 (5th Cir. 1990). “The Court must balance the need for discovery by the requesting party and the relevance of the discovery to the case against the harm, prejudice, or burden to the other party.” Cmedia, LLC v. LifeKey Healthcare, LLC, 216 F.R.D. 387, 389 (N.D. Tex. 2003). “A trial court enjoys wide discretion in determining the scope and effect of discovery.” Sanders v. Shell Oil Co., 678 F.2d 614, 618 (5th Cir. 1982).

         B. Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel

         In its Motion to Compel, TDS seeks to compel (1) all claim notes and documents from Arch’s document retention database relating to TDS’s claims at issue in this lawsuit, and (2) all correspondence between Arch and Thompson Coe, a law firm retained by Arch in the underlying lawsuit. TDS also requests that the Court order Arch to provide additional information about former Arch employee Julie Tucker’s medical condition, and offer dates for her deposition

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