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Striegel v. American Family Mutual Ins. Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

November 18, 2014

ALEXANDREA STRIEGEL, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., Defendants

For Alexandria Striegel, Plaintiff: Thomas F. Christensen, LEAD ATTORNEY, Christensen Law Offices LLC, Las Vegas, NV.

For American Family Mutual Insurance Company, Defendant: Scott A Flinders, LEAD ATTORNEY, Todd W Prall, Hutchison & Steffen, LLC, Las Vegas, NV.

ORDER

CAM FERENBACH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

This matter involves Alexandrea Striegel's bad faith action against American Family Mutual Insurance Company. (Amend. Compl. #27[1]). Before the court are Striegel's Motions to Compel (#70, #71). American Family filed an opposition (#72) and Counter Motion for a Protective Order (#73). Both parties replied (#75, #78). For the reasons stated below, Striegel's first Motion to Compel (#70) is granted in part and denied in part, her second Motion to Compel (#71) is denied, and American Family's Counter Motion for a Protective Order (#73) is denied.

BACKGROUND[2]

Rujake Gross's 1999 Dodge Ram headed eastbound along Vegas Valley Drive. (Pl.'s Mot. to Compel (#70) at 5:13-16). Jessica Sherman's 2002 Kia Rio accelerated westbound on the same road. (Id. at 5:16). Sherman, who was allegedly speeding, carried seven passengers in her five-passenger Kia: Alexandrea Striegel, Thomas Striegel, Airaka Schuman, Sara Geary, Michael Sherwood, and Ashley Irvin. (Id. at 5: 17-20). At Tree Line Drive, Gross turned left. (Id. at 5:16, 27). He failed to yield. (Def.'s Opp'n (#73) at 2:20). The cars collided. (Doc. #70 at 6:1). A fire ignited. (Id. at 6:2). Alexandrea and Thomas Striegel were seriously injured. (Id. at 6-7).

American Family Mutual Insurance Company is Gross' insurance company. (Id. at 7:3-4). His policy provided $100, 000.00 of bodily injury liability insurance per person and $300, 000.00 per occurrence. (Amend. Compl. (#27) at ¶ 9). Two weeks after the accident, on April 7, 2006, the Christensen Law Offices notified American Family that is represents the Striegels and that it wanted copies of Gross's policy. (Doc. #73 at 3:1-4). On April 28, 2006, the Christensen Law Offices allegedly sent American Family a follow-up letter. (Id. at 3:5-6). According to Striegel, the letter stated that Alexandrea and Thomas were willing to settle for the policy limits. (Doc. #70 at 7:18-19). According to American Family, no letter was received. (Doc. #73 at 4:14).

On November 3, 2006, Alexandrea, Thomas, and the five other passengers riding in the Kia filed suit against Gross in state court. (Id. at 4:27). American Family quickly reached a stipulation to dismiss with each plaintiff. (Id. at 5:10). As a result, Alexandrea and Thomas respectively received $100, 000.00 and $16, 520.00 from Gross' insurance policy. (Id. at 5:12). Additionally, the five other passengers in the Kia executed releases. (Id. at 5:12-13). The Striegels did not. (Id.)

The Striegels' action against Gross proceeded. (Id. at 5:18). On July 26, 2010, a second stipulation was reached and judgment was entered against Gross. Under the terms of the judgment, Gross assigned any claims he may have against American Family to the Striegels in exchange for the Striegels' agreement to not execute its judgment against Gross. (Doc. #73 at 5:21-26).

Now, Alexandrea Striegel[3] is exercising her right to pursue Gross' claims against American Family in this action. ( See Compl. #1-1). She alleges that American Family engaged in bad faith by failing to settle within policy limits and exposing Gross to extra-contractual damages. (Amend. Compl. (#27) at ¶ 21).

The parties are currently in the midst of discovery. On September 30, 2014, and October 9, 2014, Striegel filed two motions to compel. The first concerns five[4] of Striegel's document requests (i.e., Requests for Production 3-7). ( See Doc. #70 at 3:19). Striegel's second Motion to Compel concerns fourteen additional document requests (i.e., Requests for Production 8-21). ( See Doc. #71 at 1:24). American Family opposed both motions, arguing inter alia that the requests are overbroad and the information sought is proprietary and should be protected from disclosure. This order follows.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) governs discovery's scope and limits. In pertinent part, Rule 26(b)(1) provides that " [p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Rule 26 defines relevant information as any information that " appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. The Supreme Court states that Rule 26 affords liberal discovery. Seattle Times, Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 34, 104 S.Ct. 2199, 81 L.Ed.2d 17 (1984). Liberal discovery " serves the integrity and fairness of the judicial process by promoting the search for the truth." Shoen v. Shoen, 5 F.3d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir. 1993).

Where--as here--a party resists discovery, the requesting party may file a motion to compel. Rule 37 governs motions to compel, and provides that a " party seeking discovery may move for an order compelling an answer, designation, production, or inspection" if a party fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule 33" or " fails to respond" to a request under Rule 34. Before moving to compel, Rule 37 requires the movant to include a certification that the movant has " in good faith conferred or attempted to confer" with the party resisting discovery before seeking judicial intervention. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1); see also LR 26-7(b); ShuffleMaster, ...


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