Tommy Dowdy et al v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

Filing 18

ORDER RE DISCOVERY LETTER BRIEF re 17 MOTION for Discovery filed by Tommy Dowdy. Briefing due by 2/19/2016 at 12:00 PM. Signed by Judge Jon S. Tigar on February 16, 2016. (wsn, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 2/16/2016)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 TOMMY DOWDY, et al., Case No. 15-cv-03764-JST Plaintiffs, 8 ORDER RE DISCOVERY LETTER BRIEF v. 9 METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Re: ECF No. 17 Defendant. 12 13 The Court has received the parties’ joint discovery letter brief. ECF No. 17. 14 Before the Court can decide the questions posed by the parties’ letter, it must determine 15 which standard of review applies to this case, or at least know with clarity which standard each of 16 the parties thinks applies. “It is well established that the scope of discovery in a denial of ERISA 17 benefits case is linked to the standard of review.” Medford v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 244 F. Supp. 2d 18 1120, 1124 (D. Nev. 2003). In general, “discovery must be more carefully tailored to the issues 19 raised in the particular case” than discovery in an ordinary civil case, “specifically, ‘the need to 20 demonstrate conflict of interest,’ as well as the proper standard of review to be applied.” Klund v. 21 High Tech. Sols., Inc., 417 F. Supp. 2d 1155, 1159-60 (S.D. Cal. 2005) (quoting Waggener v. 22 UNUM Life Ins. Co. of Am., 238 F. Supp. 2d 1179, 1185 (S.D. Cal. 2002)). 23 Although the parties have made various statements about the standard of review they think 24 the Court will apply in this case, the question has not been definitively decided, and the parties’ 25 statements are equivocal. In the parties’ recent Joint Case Management Statement, ECF No. 14, 26 Plaintiffs say that the abuse of discretion standard “generally applies in cases where, as here, the 27 plan purports to grant its administrator discretionary authority to determine eligibility for 28 benefits,” but that they intend to “take discovery going to the standard of review.” Id. at 5. The 1 Plaintiffs take no position on the question in the more recent letter brief. The Defendants, by 2 comparison, take no position regarding the standard of review in the case management statement, 3 but argue in the letter brief that since they have offered to stipulate to de novo review, that should 4 be the standard. 5 The parties are ordered to file briefs of not more than three pages each identifying the 6 applicable standard of review in this case and the reasons and authorities in support of that 7 standard. The briefs must be filed by Friday, February 19, 2016 at noon. In the alternative, the 8 parties may file a stipulation, which need not be supported by argument or authority. In either 9 event, the Court will decide the parties’ discovery dispute, ECF No. 17, after receipt of the information requested by this order. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. 12 13 14 Dated: February 16, 2016 ______________________________________ JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2

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