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Hart v. Safeco Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

April 18, 2017

Juanita Hart and Devon Hart Barron, Plaintiffs,
v.
Safeco Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, and First National Insurance Company of America, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          RICHARD MARK GERGEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion to quash deposition notice and for a protective order (Dkt. No. 78). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Juanita Hart had an automobile insurance policy with Defendant Safeco Insurance or Defendant First National insurance, setup so that monthly premiums would be charged electronically to her Wells Fargo checking account. Plaintiffs claim Defendants did not attempt to charge her bank account for the auto insurance premium due January 4, 2016, resulting in a loss of coverage just before an automobile accident. On February 14, 2017, the Court held Plaintiffs had produced no evidence to controvert Defendant's affidavit from a receivables manager, who swears that that she did attempt to charge Ms. Hart's Visa and that the attempted charge was declined. The Court therefore held Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Plaintiffs failed to show genuine issues of fact that, if decided for Plaintiffs, could establish a prima facie case for relief. (Dkt. No. 62 at 4-9); see also Celotex Corp, v, Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (providing summary judgment standard).

         Plaintiffs then moved for reconsideration based on additional materials not available when the motion for summary judgment was briefed. Although the Court found those materials unpersuasive, it recognized that Defendants had moved for summary judgment well before the close of discovery. The Court therefore placed the order granting summary judgment into abeyance until the scheduled end of discovery to permit Plaintiffs a full opportunity to develop their prima facie case. (Dkt. No. 74 at 2-3.) Defendants now move to quash a subpoena for a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of "Safeco/First National."[1] (Dkt. No. 78.)

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, unless otherwise limited by court order, "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged 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 of expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense" by forbidding or limiting the scope of discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). "The scope and conduct of discovery are within the sound discretion of the district court." Columbus-Am. Discovery Grp. v. Atl. Mut. Ins. Co., 56 F.3d 556, 568 n.16 (4th Cir. 1995); see also United States ex rel. Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (stating that district courts are afforded "substantial discretion... in managing discovery").

         Rule 30 gives parties broad leave to depose "any person" who may have relevant information in a case. Fed. R, Civ. P. 30. When a party subpoenas attendance at a deposition, the party receiving the subpoena may move to quash the subpoena under Rule 45, which requires that a district court must quash or modify a subpoena that:

(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;
(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits specified in Rule 45(c);
(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or
(iv) subjects a person to undue burden.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(3)(A).

         III. ...


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