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Duffy v. Lawrence Memorial Hospital

United States District Court, D. Kansas

November 22, 2017

MEGEN DUFFY, Relator/Plaintiff,
v.
LAWRENCE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          TERESA J. JAMES, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Relator's[1] Motion to Compel Production of Responses to Relator's Fifth Requests for Production to Defendant (ECF No. 239). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 and D. Kan. Rules 37.1 and 37.2, Plaintiff asks the Court to order Defendant Lawrence Memorial Hospital to withdraw its objections to RFP Nos. 69, 70, 72, and 73 and provide all responsive documents. Defendant opposes the motion. As set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is granted.

         I. Relevant Background

         Plaintiff served her Fifth Request for Production of Documents on July 28, 2017.[2] On August 28, 2017, Defendant objected and responded to the RFPs.[3] Plaintiff's counsel sent a golden rule letter on September 13, 2017, pointing out alleged deficiencies in Defendant's responses and improprieties with Defendant's objections.[4] The parties conferred by telephone on September 15, 2017 and exchanged letters following the telephone conference. On the day Plaintiff filed the instant motion (which was also the deadline to do so), defense counsel sent an email informing Plaintiff's counsel that Defendant was withdrawing three objections to RFP No. 69. Two days after filing its response, Defendant served supplemental responses to the RFPs in dispute, but the only difference is that Defendant omitted the three objections it had withdrawn to RFP No. 69.

         Based on the parties' efforts, the Court finds they have complied with the requirements of D. Kan. Rule 37.2. The motion is ripe and the Court is prepared to rule on the remaining disputes in Plaintiff's motion to compel.

         II. Summary of the Parties' Arguments

         Plaintiff challenges the propriety of Defendant's objections to four document requests. The issues are largely similar to those raised in earlier motions to compel, with one addition. Defendant raises a new objection that three of the requests are overbroad because they seek documents from 2007-2009. According to Defendant, Plaintiff's allegations relate only to Defendant's activities since 2010, making Plaintiff entitled only to documents created in 2010 and later.

         Plaintiff addresses Defendant's overbreadth objection by pointing to language in the Second Amended Complaint which alleges Defendant made false claims for Medicaid payments beginning as early as 2007, thus justifying her request for documents as of that time.

         III. Whether the Discovery Sought is Relevant and Discoverable

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) sets out the general scope of discovery and provides as follows:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.[5]

         Relevancy is to be “construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on” any party's claim or defense.[6]Information still “need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.”[7] When the discovery sought appears relevant, the party resisting discovery has the burden to establish the lack of relevancy by demonstrating that the requested discovery (1) does not come within the scope of relevancy as defined under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), or (2) is of such marginal relevancy that the potential harm occasioned by discovery would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of broad disclosure.[8] Conversely, when the relevancy of the discovery request is not readily apparent on its face, the party seeking the discovery has the burden to show the relevancy of the request.[9] Relevancy determinations are generally made on a case-by-case basis.[10]

         In this action, the Court finds that the relevancy of the discovery called for by Plaintiff's Fifth Request for Production of Documents is apparent on its face. The requests relate directly to Plaintiff's allegations regarding Medicaid payments. Although Defendant protests that Plaintiff has not alleged Defendant is liable to any state Medicaid agency, the Court previously demonstrated the fallacy of this argument.[11] The Court discusses below Defendant's other objections, but with respect to relevancy the Court overrules Defendant's objections to RFP Nos. 72 and 73.[12]

         IV. Specific Discovery Requests

         The Court considers the specific discovery requests and objections not previously addressed.

         A. ...


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