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Owens v. Liberty Life Assurance Co. of Boston

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division

December 14, 2016

PAULETTE OWENS PLAINTIFF
v.
LIBERTY LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY OF BOSTON DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM AND OPINION

          H. Brent Brennenstuhl United States Magistrate Judge.

         BACKGROUND

         Before the Court is the motion of Defendant Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston ("Liberty") requesting entry of a protective order of confidentiality (DN 60). Plaintiff Paulette Owens ("Owens") responded (DN 64), and Liberty filed a reply (DN 69). This matter is ripe for adjudication.

         This is an ERISA disability benefits case. Owens has been granted specified discovery into issues that may indicate a conflict of interest affecting Liberty's coverage decision (DN 26). Liberty initially requested a protective order covering certain documents relating to personnel matters and alleged trade secrets (DN 48). The undersigned denied the initial motion because Liberty did not adequately demonstrate that public disclosure of the information at issue would result in a "clearly defined and very serious injury" (DN 54 at 5 (quoting Mitchell v. Home Depot U.S.A., No. 3:11-CV-332, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82562, *4-5 (W.D. Ky. June 13, 2013)).

         The undersigned did not foreclose Liberty from filing a subsequent request with a more definite statement outlining the injury it would suffer if these documents are not kept confidential. The motion now under consideration is Liberty's subsequent request. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

         In its motion, Liberty identifies six categories of information it wishes to keep confidential. These include:

(a) customized claims handling policies, procedures, and exceptions;
(b) bonus plan for employees, as reflected in Liberty's Variable Incentive Plan;
(c) organizational structure of its claims and appeals units;
(d) contracts with third party vendors;
(e) contracts, including financial compensation, with its consulting physicians; and
(f) training curricula provided to specific employees

(DN 60-1 at p. 2).

         Liberty asserts these materials should be protected both because they qualify as trade secrets and because there is good cause (Id. at p. 1). Notably, Liberty is not refusing to produce these documents altogether, but rather is seeking to do so under a protective order (Id.). In support of its motion, Liberty filed the affidavit of Paula McGee, litigation manager for Liberty (DN 63-1). The affidavit asserts, in short, that the disability insurance market is competitive, that policies, procedures, contracts, bonus plans, organizational structure, and similar information is how an insurance company gains a ...


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