I have twice blogged about court orders coming out of the United States District of Arizona Court’s Barten v. State Farm case. Well, time to talk about another great Barten decision hot off the press. By order dated January 31, 2014,1 United States District Judge Cindy Jorgenson upheld the spirit of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c).2
In her January 31, 2014, order, Judge Jorgenson upheld an order from Magistrate Bowman denying State Farm’s motion for protective order concerning its Advancing Claims Excellence (“ACE”) program documentation / information. Judge Jorgenson found that State Farm’s ACE-related discovery responses were due at the end of March 2013, and that State Farm objected to the ACE-related discovery requests within its March 2013, deadlines. Judge Jorgenson found, however, that State Farm did not file its motion for protective order concerning the disputed discovery until the beginning of July 2013, and then held, in part, as follows:
[Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 26(c) does not set out any time limits in which a motion for protective order must be filed. However, the rule maintains an implicit condition that it be made timely. … [A] motion for protective order is timely if made prior to the date set for producing discovery. The failure to timely move for a protective order constitutes grounds for denying the same.
End result? State Farm’s motion for protective order concerning ACE-related documentation / information was denied. State Farm was officially ordered to produce ACE-related documentation / information. It will be interesting to see the extent of State Farm’s production compliance … stay tuned. In the meantime, heed the underlying cautionary tale about when a motion for protective order needs to be filed.
1 Barten v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. CIV 12-399 (D. Ariz. Jan. 31, 2014).
2 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) provides, in part, as follows: “A party or any person from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order … . … The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense… .”