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United States ex rel Manion v. St. Luke's Regional Medical

April 26, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, EX REL., BETTY MANION AND LYNDA EVERSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ST. LUKE'S REGIONAL MEDICAL, CENTER, LTD., AND JOHN/JANE DOES I THROUGH X, WHOSE TRUE IDENTITIES ARE PRESENTLY UNKNOWN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Candy W. Dale Chief United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Currently pending before the Court are Plaintiffs/Relators' Second Motion to Compel Responses to Second Set of Requests for Production (Docket No. 91) and Plaintiffs/Relators' Motion for Attorney Fees (Docket No. 92). Having carefully reviewed the extensive briefing and other materials submitted by the parties and the record, as well as holding oral argument on the motions, the Court issues the following Order, consistent with the direction provided to the parties by the Court on the record upon conclusion of hearing oral arguments on April 7, 2010..

I. Introduction

This is just one in a series of discovery disputes between the parties to this litigation. Plaintiffs/Relators ("Relators") filed their Second Motion to Compel on January 15, 2010, requesting the Court to order St. Luke's Regional Medical Center ("Defendant") to fully reply to their Second Set of Requests for Production of Documents and to verify their responses.

Relators contend that, after numerous meet and confer attempts, resulting in a voluminous collection of letters, Defendant continues to delay in providing them with meaningful and complete responses to their Second Set of Requests for Production originally served on Defendant on June 4, 2009.*fn1

Specifically, the Motion to Compel requests the Court to order Defendant to provide complete and clear discovery responses to Relators' Second Set of Requests for Production; require Defendant to timely comply with their requests for claims payment data; and, respond to the requests for data relating to modifier 25 and low osmolar contrast material ("LOCM"). Relators also filed a Motion for Attorneys Fees based on their motion to compel, the previous motion to compel resolved by the Court on August 12, 2009 (Docket No. 85), and the current motion for attorney fees.

II. Discussion

A. Motion to Compel

The trial court has the discretion to order a party to produce documents or answer interrogatories. Gen. Fire & Cas. Co. v. Guy Carpenter & Co., Inc., No. CV05-251-S-LMB, 2007 WL 683793 *4 (D. Idaho March 2, 2007). As a general rule, "parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense.... Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).

1. Complete Discovery Responses

In response to Relators' contention that Defendant has failed to provide clear and complete responses to their Second Set of Request for Production, Defendant argues that its responses are not incomplete because discovery is still ongoing. Defendant submitted a status report indicating whether each of its responses to each request in the Second Set of Requests for Production is complete or in need of supplementation. If the response is not complete, the Defendant has identified the reasons for the lack of finality. (Addendum 1 to McKissick's Affidavit, Docket No. 93-5.) According to Defendant, it is still in the process of compiling, producing and creating documents in response to several requests except for the six requests discussed below regarding modifier 25 and LOCM, topics Defendant alleges are irrelevant to the current lawsuit.

E-data

With respect to e-data on a system other than the one containing the claims payment data, Defendant argues that it has not been produced due to Relators' own non-responsiveness and abandonment of their request for this data. Additionally, Defendant has requested that Relators share in the cost required for collection of the e-data. Relators replied that Defendant's claim of "abandonment" by Relators was a misrepresentation to the Court. However, during the hearing, Defendant's counsel indicated the existence of a plan Defendant was prepared to present to Relators for renewed efforts toward compilation of the e-data (from the PFS shared drive). Therefore, the parties were directed to discuss the production of e-data at a meet and confer session ordered by the Court to take place following the hearing on April 7, 2010.*fn2 Therefore, the Court will not address this e-data production further unless the parties cannot reach agreement on the format, scope, process, and deadlines for timely completing the production of this data.

Boxes of Paper Documents

Also related to Relators' request for complete and clear responses, Relators point to 144 boxes*fn3 of paper documents produced by Defendant for Relators' review, inspection and copying. Defendant contends that these boxes contain all of the paper records responsive to both sets of Relators' requests for production and include internal memos, letters, correspondence, emails, reference materials, claims information, documents gathered from Relators' work stations, documents gathered from individuals listed in Relators' Amended Complaint and other documents gathered by counsel.*fn4 Relators are asking the Court to order that Defendant provide some "limited guidance" regarding the contents of the boxes. Defendant argues that this is unnecessary as the documents were produced in compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 34 which allows a responding party to either label responsive documents to correspond to categories in the requests or to produce them "as they are kept in the usual course of business." Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(B)(2)(e)(I). Specifically, counsel for Defendant, Sean McKissick, stated in his Declaration that the 144 boxes are marked according to the St. Luke's employee from whose office they were collected, and are organized and maintained in the order in which they were maintained in that ...


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