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Ratliff v. Guarantee Life Insurance Co.

December 2, 2005

JOE D. RATLIFF PLAINTIFF
v.
GUARANTEE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY DEFENDANT



ORDER

Pending before the Court is plaintiff's motion to compel. The Court previously directed the parties to attempt to work out a solution by which plaintiff can obtain general information regarding defendant's handling of other claims, but which protects the privacy of the individuals. The Court directed the parties to submit their respective proposals to the Court within twenty days of the November4, 2004 Order if they could not resolve their differences.

The parties continue to have a dispute over discovery, and 11 months after the November 4th order, plaintiff has filed a motion to compel.

Defendant produced a chart summarizing long term disability claims filed by other employees of BKD, LLP ("BKD"), the accounting firm where plaintiff was a former partner. Defendant later produced an updated chart. Plaintiff was not satisfied with this information, and requested the claim file and medical records of a specific disability claimant. Defendant objected, stating that it could not release medical information without the individual's consent and that the information is irrelevant to plaintiff's claim.

The Court finds that plaintiff is not entitled to the specific claim file and accompanying medical records of the other claimant. The other claimant expressly denied defendant permission to release her claim file or medical records to plaintiff. Indeed, she has filed a motion to intervene to protect her right arguing that her records are protected under HIPAA, 45 C. F. R. § 164.102. Producing that information would possibly violate the privacy provisions of various state and federal laws, including Nebraska Revised Status § 8-1401 ("Disclosure of Confidential Information") and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, 15 U.S.C. § 6801 et seq.

The Court finds that defendant has produced sufficient information The Court previously noted that discovery is limited in ERISA cases, and that plaintiff was entitled to only general information. Redacting identifying information as plaintiff suggests would not address the privacy concerns of the individual as plaintiff would still be privy to very personal medical information regarding an individual whom he has identified.

Accordingly, the motion to compel is denied. As the Court has denied plaintiff access to the specific information, the motion for limited intervention is denied as moot.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20051202

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