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Tyll v. Black

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 8, 2018

LORI T. TYLL, Plaintiff,
v.
STANLEY BLACK & DECKER LIFE INSURANCE PROGRAM and AETNA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          RULING AND ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTE

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On September 25, 2014, Michael A. Tyll died during an international flight. Am. Compl., ECF No. 1, at ¶ 18. Lori Tyll, his wife (“Plaintiff”), filed this lawsuit, seeking double indemnity benefits and death and personal loss benefits allegedly owed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). Id. at ¶ 17.

         Ms. Tyll alleges that AETNA Life Insurance Company (“AETNA”) wrongly denied her insurance claim and its appeals, Id. at ¶¶ 29-35, 39, and asks this Court to conduct a de novo review of AETNA's denial. Id. at ¶ 40. In the alternative, Ms. Tyll argues that AETNA lacked the “authority to make discretionary benefit decisions” because the Stanley Black & Decker Life Insurance Plan (“Stanley”) retained that authority, Id. at ¶¶ 24-26. Under that theory, Ms. Tyll asks the Court to review the benefits decision or grant her equitable relief. ¶¶ 42-54.

         On September 5, 2018, this Court convened a hearing on Defendants' motions to dismiss Count III of Plaintiff's complaint (i.e., the contract reformation count). ECF No. 51. At that hearing, the parties alerted the Court to a discovery dispute. Id. The Court permitted the parties to submit discovery dispute briefs. See Letter Brief re: Discovery Disputes by Lori T. Tyll, ECF No. 55; Letter Brief by Aetna Life Ins. Co., ECF No. 56.

         On October 18, 2018, the Court held a telephonic status conference on the discovery dispute. ECF No. 58. As explained at that time and in the parties' filings, Ms. Tyll seeks an order compelling AETNA to conduct further electronic discovery and to produce a Rule 30(b)(6) witness. Letter Brief re: Discovery Disputes by Lori T. Tyll. AETNA objects. Letter Brief by Aetna Life Ins. Co.

         For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's requests to compel AETNA to conduct further electronic discovery or produce a Rule 30(b)(6) witness is DENIED. The Court will extend discovery, however until November 30, 2018.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Court assumes the parties' familiarity with the background facts of this case. The sufficiency of discovery is presently before the Court.

         On December 22, 2017, the parties submitted a Rule 26(f) planning report. ECF No. 28. On January 26, 2018, the Court convened a scheduling conference, ECF No. 35, after which the Court issued a scheduling order. ECF No. 37. On February 2, 2018, Defendants, collectively, produced a proposed administrative record in excess of 1, 200 pages. Letter Brief re: Discovery Disputes by Lori T. Tyll at 2. About four months later, Plaintiff contacted Defendants, alleged a host of insufficiencies in the proposed administrative record, and requested that Defendants continue to search for relevant documents. Id. at Ex. A-1, ECF No. 55-1.

         On May 25, 2018, in a companion case before Judge Janet C. Hall, Plaintiff filed three motions seeking deposition of a Rule 30(b)(6) expert, electronic discovery of terms such as “Tyll” and “07514045955” (a claim number at issue), and other relief against Stanley and Federal Insurance Company (“Federal”), who also insured Mr. Tyll. Tyll v. Stanley Black & Decker Life Insurance Program, 3:17-cv-01574-JCH, Compl., ECF No. 1; ECF Nos. 40-42.

         That same day, Plaintiff served Defendants in this case with a request to depose an AETNA executive on June 5, 2018, three days before the close of discovery. Letter Brief by Aetna Life Ins. Co. A few days later, on June 4-5, 2018, the parties exchanged e-mails. Letter Brief re: Discovery Disputes by Lori T. Tyll, Ex. A; Letter Brief by Aetna Life Ins. Co., Ex. B. On June 5, 2018, by e-mail, Defendants “consent[ed] to a discovery extension . . . provided that plaintiff drops the request for depositions” and seek additional written discovery only. Id. Later that day, the parties filed a consent motion to modify the scheduling order. ECF No. 40. On June 11, 2018, the Court granted the motion and extended the discovery deadline to August 10, 2018. ECF No. 43.

         On June 12, 2018, in the companion case, Judge Hall granted Plaintiff's motion for Rule 30(b)(6) depositions of Stanley and Federal, but denied Plaintiff's motions to compel additional electronic discovery. Letter Brief re: Discovery Disputes by Lori T. Tyll, Ex. D [Courtroom Minutes - Civil, 3:17-cv-1574].

         During the summer of 2018, Stanley performed the electronic searches requested by Plaintiff, for this case, and produced 3, 274 additional pages of allegedly relevant documents. Id. AETNA did not engage in additional electronic searching. Id; Letter Brief by Aetna Life Ins. Co. at 1. AETNA's decision not to comply with Plaintiff's discovery request forms the basis of this discovery dispute Id.

         On August 13, 2018, the parties again moved to extend the discovery deadline. ECF No. 48. The Court granted the motion. ECF No. 49. On September 5, 2018, the parties alerted the Court to their unresolved discovery issue. ECF No. 51. See also Letter Brief ...


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