The eDiscovery Resource Center™ is Bloomberg BNA’s comprehensive research solution for litigators and in-house counsel who require authoritative guidance on the handling,...
May 11 — State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. must respond to interrogatories because the data at issue is relevant to the case and the discovery request is proportional under Rule 26, the Western District of Missouri held May 9.
The court ruled on State Farm's request to vacate an order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b), which requires discovery requests to be considered in light of several proportionality factors. The court determined that given the difference between individual plaintiff Amanda LaBrier's access and resources and those of State Farm, the insurance company must respond to the request.
In July 2015, LaBrier began serving requests on State Farm for discovery regarding the insurance company's data related to putative class members. In October 2015, LaBrier suggested that State Farm provide a list of data fields that were available in its databases including a list related to the insurer's internal claims payment data. State Farm refused to do so, although its software engineers testified that State Farm did maintain a list of data fields that could be put into an Excel spreadsheet.
In a preliminary ruling in March, a Special Master decided that in lieu of State Farm providing the data fields or remote access to its claims system as LaBrier had requested, State Farm should answer interrogatories related to labor depreciation withheld.
State Farm objected to the order, arguing the interrogatories would be unduly burdensome.
The court analyzed the order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) noting the Rules “contemplate liberal discovery.”
According to the order, State Farm didn't dispute that the discovery sought was relevant.
“Indeed, the discovery goes directly to central issues in the case and is needed to identify class members and damages, discovery that is routinely provided in class action cases,” the court said.
State Farm argued it couldn't answer the interrogatories without doing inquiries into multiple databases and to do so would be expensive. But the court wasn't swayed.
“The Court recognizes this might require computer programming that State Farm does not have or does not normally use for this purpose,” the court said. “Nonetheless, State Farm has refused access to its computer system…Therefore, neither the Court nor LaBrier can determine whether such a calculation can be made with existing software.”
The court noted that the Special Master's order to answer interrogatories addressed State Farm's concern about keeping its computer system confidential.
“A litigant cannot keep its own system secret and then refuse to gather the information itself,” the court said.
State Farm also argued the discovery wasn't proportional to the needs of the case, but the court disagreed.
The court cited the fact that LaBrier didn't have access to the relevant information, and that as an individual up against a corporation with a national presence, she was outweighed in terms of resources.
“As discussed in the preceding section, the burden or expense of the discovery outweighs its likely benefit, particularly in light of State Farm's refusal to permit an outsider to access its computer system or even provide complete lists of its data fields,” the court said.
The court denied the motion to vacate the discovery order.
Judge Nanette K. Laughrey wrote the order.
Butsch Roberts and Associates LLC in Clayton, Mo., represented LaBrier. Schiff Hardin LLP in Chicago represented State Farm.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tera Brostoff in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Carol Eoannou at email@example.com.
The full text of LaBrier v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. is available at
The full text of LaBrier v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/LaBrier_v_State_Farm_Fire__Cas_Co_No_215cv04093NKL_2016_BL_147757
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)