United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. EIFERT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery. (ECF No. 41).
Defendant has filed a memorandum opposing the motion, (ECF
No. 44), and Plaintiff has replied. (ECF No. 45). Therefore,
the motion is fully briefed, and the undersigned finds no
need for oral argument. For the reasons that follow, the
undersigned GRANTS, in part, and
DENIES, in part, the motion to compel.
29, 2012, Plaintiff was involved in a serious automobile
accident caused by Robert Conway, who, while intoxicated,
drove his vehicle across the center line of Route 60 in
Cabell County, colliding head-on with the vehicle driven by
Plaintiff. (ECF No. 1 at 2). At the time of the accident,
Conway was living and working in West Virginia and had a
valid automobile insurance policy issued by Defendant.
(Id. at 3). Accordingly, Plaintiff asserted a claim
against Conway's policy, requesting payment for
Plaintiff's bodily injuries. Ultimately, Defendant denied
Plaintiff's claim on the basis that Conway did not have
coverage for bodily injury under his automobile insurance
filed a personal injury lawsuit against Conway in 2014, and
in 2015, obtained a default judgment in the amount of $2,
773, 776.99. (Id. at 4-5). Thereafter, Conway
assigned to Plaintiff any and all claims for compensatory and
punitive damages that Conway possessed against Defendant
arising out of its alleged mishandling of Plaintiff's
2012 claim. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff filed the instant
action, seeking a declaratory judgment that bodily injury
coverage existed under Conway's policy and asserting
various other claims based on Defendant's denial of
Plaintiff's bodily injury claim.
course of discovery, Plaintiff served Defendant with
interrogatories and requests for the production of documents.
Defendant respond to the discovery, but Plaintiff was
dissatisfied with some of Defendant's answers. The
parties attempted to resolve the issues, but were unable to
settle all of their differences. Consequently, Plaintiff
filed the instant motion to compel. The motion asks the court
to compel more complete answers to Interrogatory Nos. 1, 4,
5, 8, 16, 18 and document Request for Documents Nos. 2, 3,
considered the arguments and the relevant law, the Court
ORDERS as follows:
Interrogatory No. 1 and Request for Production No.
these discovery requests, Plaintiff seeks seven years of
financial information from Defendant. Defendant objects to
the discovery requests on the basis that Plaintiff has not
yet demonstrated a prima facie claim for punitive
damages and provides no other reason for the disclosure of
such information. Plaintiff does not dispute the accuracy of
Defendant's objection; instead, Plaintiff offers a
compromise, agreeing to accept two years of financial
information to be produced at the pretrial hearing.
Defendant points out, this Court has previously held that a
plaintiff must “make a prima facie claim for punitive
damages before being entitled to discovery of a
defendant's financial records. To make a prima facie
claim for punitive damages ... a plaintiff must produce some
factual evidence in support of her claim.” Robinson
v. Quicken Loans Inc., No. CIV.A. 3:12-0981, 2013 WL
1704839, at *4 (S.D. W.Va. Apr. 19, 2013). Surviving a motion
for summary judgment, or filing a motion to compel
“that includes sufficient supporting evidence
(i.e., affidavits, documentary evidence) to
demonstrate a viable claim for punitive damages” are
two avenues by which Plaintiff may make such a showing in
this case. Id. at n. 3. At this point, Plaintiff has
not made a sufficient factual showing to justify an order
compelling the production of Defendant's financial
records. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion to compel
Interrogatory No. 1 and Request No. 14 is
DENIED as premature.
Interrogatory No. 4
Interrogatory No. 4, Plaintiff asks for information regarding
the individuals who handled Plaintiff's 2012 claim.
Defendant provided some of the requested information,
including a list of the involved employees. Plaintiff
acknowledges receipt of the employees' names, but argues
that Defendant should be compelled to identify which of the
listed employees “were involved in the decision to deny
coverage for Plaintiff's bodily injury claim.” (ECF
No. 45 at 3). Plaintiff explains that this additional
information will allow him to narrow the scope of future
discovery. In view of Plaintiff's explanation, and noting
that this information is relevant to some of Plaintiff's
claims and not particularly burdensome, Plaintiff's
motion to compel a supplemental response to Interrogatory No.
4, as framed herein, is GRANTED.