United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Wayne Boyd and Whitfield R. Boyd, Plaintiff,
Sysco Corporation, Sysco Corporation Group Benefit Plan, and United Behavioral Health, Defendants
For Wayne Boyd, Whitfield R Boyd, Plaintiffs: Blaney A Coskrey, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Coskrey Law Office, Columbia, SC.
For Sysco Corporation, Sysco Corporation Group Benefit Plan, United Behavioral Health, Defendants: Robert Lesley Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, Clawson and Staubes (Cola), Columbia, SC.
Kaymani D. West, United States Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiffs Wayne Boyd and Whitfield Boyd seek benefits pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (" ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq . ECF No. 1. This matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel, ECF No. 27, and Plaintiffs' Motion to have Requests for Admissions deemed admitted, ECF No. 28. Defendants filed Responses in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motions, ECF No. 30, 31, and Plaintiffs filed a Reply, ECF No. 34. This matter is also before the court on Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order, ECF No. 32. Plaintiffs filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order. ECF No. 35. These Motions were referred to the undersigned on September 19, 2014, and September 23, 2014, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636. ECF Nos. 29, 33. Having considered the parties' briefs and related filings, the court grants Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel in part, denies Plaintiffs' Motion to have Requests for Admissions deemed admitted, and denies Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order.
Plaintiffs' Complaint includes a claim for unpaid health benefits and related relief pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) and a claim for penalties provided by 29 U.S.C. § 1132(c) for failure to provide documents when requested in November of 2012. ECF No. 1. After Defendants answered Plaintiffs' Complaint, see ECF No. 5, the court entered a Specialized Case Management Order, ECF No. 6, on April 23, 2013. There, the court instructed Defendants to produce: " (a) the governing plan document; (b) the summary plan description; and (c) the administrative record relevant to the particular claim at issue." Id. at 1. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Discovery, ECF No. 15, and requested the court allow them to serve written discovery and conduct a 30(b)(6) deposition on the following issues:
(1) Defendants' compilation of the record, including its now-conceded incompleteness; (2) The Plan document, and why it was not produced as ordered by this Court prior to Plaintiffs' insisting that such a document must exist; (3) Any claims management guidelines applicable to or considered by any of the Defendants; (4) The facts behind other health claims for which UBH provided claims processing services; (5) The failure to respond to the request for documents made in November 2012, for which a statutory penalty applies.
Plaintiffs requested discovery alleging that Defendants had initially produced an incomplete administrative record. ECF No. 15-1 at 5-6. Plaintiffs further alleged the documents Defendants produced on June 7, 2013, pursuant to this Court's Specialized Case Management Order were also incomplete. Id. at 6. Specifically, Plaintiffs maintain that Defendants omitted a telephone communication, internal communications, the Affidavit of Wayne Boyd, and the governing plan document from their production. Id. at 6-8. Additionally, Plaintiffs requested leave to serve Requests for Admissions and leave to be allowed written discovery and a 30(b)(6) deposition concerning conflict of interest or bias. Id. at 10. Over Defendants' objection and assertion that the court must only consider the administrative record, see ECF No. 16, the court granted Plaintiffs' Motion in part and allowed limited discovery. ECF No. 19.
In its Order, the court allowed Plaintiffs leave to serve one interrogatory requesting an explanation of the reason why the plan document was not originally produced. See id . at 6. Additionally, the court allowed Plaintiffs leave to serve requests for production regarding a complete copy of the services agreement and compensation agreement, the entire administrative record; the plan document, if not already produced, and claims management guidelines that were relied upon in making the benefit determination or which constitute a statement of policy or guidance with respect to the plan concerning the denied treatment option or benefit for the claimant's diagnosis, without regard to whether such advice or statement was relied upon in making the benefit determination. Id. at 5-6. Finally, the court allowed Plaintiffs to serve up to five requests for admissions " regarding and limited to the failure to respond to the request for documents made in November 2012, for which a statutory penalty may apply as to the second cause of action." Id. at 6. The court instructed the parties to complete discovery by September 1, 2014. Id.
II. Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel
In their Motion to Compel, Plaintiffs seek an order compelling Defendants respond or more fully respond to Plaintiffs' Interrogatory. ECF No. 27-1 at 1-3. Defendants maintain that they answered the single interrogatory permitted by the court but argue that Plaintiffs' interrogatory exceeds the scope of permissible inquiry. ECF No. 30 at 2-3.
In its July 3, 2014 Order, the court allowed Plaintiffs to serve " one interrogatory requesting an explanation of the reason why the plan document was not originally produced. This discovery is pertinent to the second cause of action under 29 U.S.C. Section 1132(c)." ECF No. 19 at 6. Accordingly, Plaintiffs served the following interrogatory on Defendants:
Describe in detail, including each and every fact (whether an act of omission or commission), person involved, and pertinent dates the reason(s) Defendants failed to respond to the request on November 19, 2012 for " a full copy of the administrative record . . . includ[ing] all documentation or other information in the possession of the company relevant to the claim, ...