United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Waycross Division
R. STAN BAKER, Magistrate Judge.
Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Compel seeking a Court order requiring Plaintiffs to provide complete responses to Defendant's discovery requests. (Doc. 75.) For reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion in GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
Plaintiffs filed this action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-80 (2014), against Defendant on January 19, 2012. (Doc. 1, p. 1.) Plaintiffs allege that Plaintiff Timothy Cupp ("Mr. Cupp") suffered injuries to his lower back when a National Guardsman operating a forklift as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency project allegedly drove the forklift into Mr. Cupp. (Doc. 16, pp. 1-2.)
This action is set for trial before the Honorable Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood on February 11, 2015. (Doc. 68, p. 1.) At a pretrial conference on November 14, 2014, the Court reopened discovery through January 31, 2015. (Doc. 68, p. 1.) Defendant then served Plaintiffs with supplemental interrogatories and supplemental requests for production of documents. See Doc. 75, p. 1.) Therein, Defendant requested information and documentation regarding Mr. Cupp's medical condition and treatment as well as documentation of lost wages. (Doc. 75, pp. 2-3.)
On January 15, 2015, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Compel arguing that despite numerous correspondences from Defendant, Plaintiffs had largely failed to respond to the supplemental interrogatories and requests for production. (See id. at p. 3.) On January 27, 2015, Plaintiffs responded that they had responded to the supplemental interrogatories and requests for production and that Plaintiffs' Motion, therefore, should be denied. (Doc. 79, p. 1.) Plaintiffs did not argue that the supplemental interrogatories were objectionable or that they otherwise were not obligated to respond to the discovery requests. (See id.) Plaintiffs did ask the Court to sanction Defendant and place the Motion under seal, because Defendant filed, as an attachment to its Motion, a document displaying Mr. Cupp's social security number and birth date. (Id.)
On January 28, 2015, Defendant filed a Reply withdrawing its Motion as to certain discovery requests because Plaintiffs had subsequently responded to those requests. (Doe. 83, p. 2.) Defendant's counsel apologized for having failed to redact Mr. Cupp's social security number and birth date from the filed exhibit and assured the Court that the document containing confidential information had since been placed on restricted access. (Id. at p. 1 & n. 1.) However, Defendant disagreed that Plaintiffs had fully responded to Defendant's Supplemental Requests for Production of Documents and reiterated its requests that Plaintiffs provide the requested information and documentation. (Id. at pp. 2-3.) The Court addresses these discovery requests as well as Plaintiffs' request for sanctions for the release of confidential information in turn.
I. Defendant's Discovery Requests
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 provides that a party may obtain discovery of "any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Upon a showing of good cause, a court may order discovery of "any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action." Id . Relevant information "need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id . The court, however, must limit discovery when (1) "the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive"; (2) "the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information"; or (3) "the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C).
In its Reply, Defendant states that the only discovery issues remaining before the Court involve its requests for the production of the following: (1) Mr. Cupp's medical records; (2) an authorization for Defendant to obtain Mr. Cupp's medical records from his health care providers ("HIPAA authorization"); and (3) copies of Mr. Cupp's W-2 forms submitted to the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") during a ten-year period. (Doc. 83, p. 2); see also Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-191, 110 Stat. 1936 (1996) ("HIPAA"). The Court rules as follows:
A. Mr. Cupp's Medical Records
Defendant's First Supplemental Request for Production Number One sought
all records, charts, reports, statements, bills, radiological film, documents or other tangible items concerning any medical examination or treatment performed by the individuals and providers identified in [Plaintiffs'] responses to Supplemental Interrogatory Nos. 1 and 2, including, but not limited to, any records, charts, reports, statements, bills, radiological film, documents or other tangible items ...