United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM & ORDER ON MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
KENNETH G. GALE, Magistrate Judge.
Now before the Court is Defendant's "Motion to Enforce ECF Administrative Procedures and Protective Order." (Doc. 55.) Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion.
Plaintiff filed his federal court Complaint seeking benefits under a long-term disability plan governed by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. ("ERISA"). ( See Doc. 1.) Plaintiff's claim was denied by Defendant on the basis that a preexisting condition caused his disability.
The Scheduling Order entered in this case makes specific reference to the potential need for a Protective Order.
Discovery in this case may be governed by a protective order. If the parties agree concerning the need for and scope and form of such a protective order, their counsel shall confer and then submit a jointly proposed protective order by June 14, 2013. Such jointly proposed protective orders should be drafted in compliance with the written guidelines that are available on the court's Internet website.... At a minimum, such proposed orders shall include, in the first paragraph, a concise but sufficiently specific recitation of the particular facts in this case that would provide the court with an adequate basis upon which to make the required finding of good cause pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c).
(Doc. 39, at 6.) The Scheduling Order also set a deadline by which the parties could move for a Protective Order if they were unable to agree to the need for, or terms of, such an order. ( Id. )
The Protective Order was entered on June 17, 2013, and stated that
The allegations and defenses in this action may result in the production or disclosure of confidential medical and proprietary documents of the parties. Specifically, Defendants may produce or disclose documents or information containing confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information regarding their business practices and policies, as well as confidential medical information regarding Plaintiff, and Plaintiff may produce or disclose confidential, medical and financial information. The parties desire that discovery proceed without delay occasioned by possible disputes about the confidential nature of the documents and/or information being produced or disclosed.
(Doc. 44, at 1 (emphasis added).) The Protective Order continues with the following procedure for designating documents as "Confidential."
1. All documents, data, interrogatory answers, admissions or discovery materials produced or obtained through the discovery process or by agreement of the parties in this action, containing or comprising the confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information of Defendants as well as the confidential medical or financial information of Plaintiff shall be considered CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION, subject to this Protective Order if designated by any party as "Confidential."
2. In the event, at any stage of the proceedings, any party to this action disagrees with designation of any information as "Confidential, " the parties shall first try to resolve such dispute in good faith on an informal basis. If the dispute cannot be resolved informally, the party claiming the confidentiality designation may apply for appropriate relief to this Court within 14 days of the opposing party's final confirmation, in writing, that an informal resolution is not possible. The Court may conduct an in camera inspection of the challenged materials. The party seeking confidentiality of the information shall have the burden of establishing that the information is entitled to confidential treatment.
( Id., at 2 (emphasis added).)
During Defendant's process of reviewing Plaintiff's claim, Dr. Costas Lambrew, a cardiologist, served as a doctoral representative during one of Defendant's "round table" reviews of Plaintiff's claim. During discovery, Defendant produced Dr. Lambrew's IRS form 1099s, which indicate the compensation Defendant paid to him. Defendant designated the 1099s and information contained therein as "Confidential" pursuant to the Protective Order entered in this case. (Doc. 44.) Plaintiff disputes the confidential nature of the information, leading to Defendant's present motion seeking an Order requiring Plaintiff "to comply with the Protective Order and ...