United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
Benson District Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
M. WARNER CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Judge Dee Benson referred this case to Chief Magistrate Judge
Paul M. Warner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A). Before the court is third party National
Vendor, LLC's (“National Vendor”) motion to
quash a subpoena (“Subpoena”) issued to National
Vendor by Plaintiffs Todd Rigby and Tiffany Rigby
(collectively, “Plaintiffs”). The court has
carefully reviewed the written memoranda submitted by the
parties. Pursuant to Civil Rule 7-1(f) of the Rules of
Practice for the United States District Court for the
District of Utah, the court has concluded that oral argument
is not necessary and will decide the motion on the basis of
the written memoranda. See DUCivR 7-1(f).
addressing the above-referenced motion, the court sets forth
the following general legal standards governing discovery.
Rule 26(b)(1) provides:
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.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “The district court has broad
discretion over the control of discovery, and [the Tenth
Circuit] will not set aside discovery rulings absent an abuse
of that discretion.” Sec. & Exch. Comm'n v.
Merrill Scott & Assocs., Ltd., 600 F.3d 1262, 1271
(10th Cir. 2010) (quotations and citations omitted).
brought suit against Defendant American Family Mutual
Insurance Company (“American Family”), claiming
several breaches in their insurance policy after their house
was destroyed by fire and water damage, as well as asserting
a bad-faith claim. National Vendor, which is not a party to
this lawsuit, is a business that provides personal property
contents services to insurance carriers. National Vendor
provided contents services for American Family with respect
to the insurance claim made by Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs issued
the Subpoena to National Vendor requesting, in part, its
“employee files of the personnel who assisted” on
the insurance claims. National Vendor agreed to produce all
information requested in the Subpoena except for the
above-referenced personnel files. National Vendor seeks a
court order limiting the Subpoena and providing protection
from producing such personnel files.
motion, National Vendor asserts that, since Plaintiffs'
claims in this case arose out of a dispute regarding payment
of fire and flood claims, Plaintiffs' request for
National Vendor's party personnel files is not narrowly
tailored and is outside the scope of permissible recovery.
National Vendor asserts that such personnel files contain
personal, private, and irrelevant information and that
discovery of such information “would not lead to the
discovery of relevant material.”
response, Plaintiffs assert that the personnel files are
related and relevant to their claims against American Family,
specifically the bad-faith claim. Plaintiffs argue that they
found deposition evidence pointing to bad faith on the part
of American Family agents. Plaintiffs also assert that there
is evidence that National Vendor personnel have acknowledged
the “that American Family's process in not paying
Plaintiffs' actual replacement value claim was
Tenth Circuit has explained that “personnel files often
contain sensitive personal information . . . and it is not
unreasonable to be cautious about ordering their entire
contents disclosed willy-nilly.” Regan-Touhy v.
Walgreen Co., 526 F.3d 641, 648 (10th Cir. 2008).
Further, “district courts should not neglect their
power to restrict discovery [to protect] a party or person
from annoyance, embarrassment, [or] oppression.”
Id. at 649 (alterations in original) (quotations and
case, the Subpoena requests “[a]ll documents evidencing
or relating to [Plaintiffs]'s fire/flood claims”
from National Vendor, including any “employee files of
personnel who assisted” on those claims. The personnel
files requested in the Subpoena go beyond the scope of
permissible discovery because the requested information
likely contains personal and private information of
nonparties. Furthermore, production of the entire personnel
files would likely disclose information that is not relevant
to Plaintiffs' claims against American Family. Had
Plaintiffs' request been more narrowly tailored to seek
strictly relevant information, the outcome here may have been
different. See Regan-Touhy, 526 F.3d at 649
(“[H]ad Ms. Touhy issued a more narrowly targeted
request . . ., we would face a very different
foregoing reasons, National Vendor's motion to quash the
Subpoena is GRANTED.