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American General Life Insurance Co. v. Jude

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

January 24, 2019

AMERICAN GENERAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE ESTATE OF CHAD JUDE DEFENDANT. THE ESTATE OF CHAD JUDE and LORI JUDE, COUNTER-PLAINTIFFS,
v.
AMERICAN GENERAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, COUNTER-DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          EDWARD B. ATKINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff's (the Judes) Renewed Motions for Sanctions pursuant to Rule 37. [DE #73 (Motion)]. At the heart of this motion, the Judes argue they have been unfairly prejudiced by Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant's (AGLIC) failure to “timely produce or supplement its discovery responses to include… Swiss RE documents, ” which they argue “formed the basis” of their decision to rescind Chad Jude's $1, 500, 000 life insurance policy. [Id. at 1; Id. at 8]. Accordingly, the Judes request: 1) these Swiss Re documents be excluded; 2) the jury be informed of AGLIC's failure to produce these documents; and 3) expenses and fees associated with bringing this motion. [Id. at 14]. In opposing this motion, AGLIC raises several arguments. [DE #75 Response]. Most importantly, AGLIC argues that “[t]here is no controversy here, ” since they “fully complied” with the Court's order resolving this discovery dispute long ago. [Id. at 3].

         Having evaluated the briefing and the full record under the applicable standard, the Court finds there is no just cause that would warrant sanctions to AGLIC under Rule 37, and therefore, DENIES the Judes' requests outlined in the Renewed Motion for Sanctions [DE #73].

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         In this civil action, AGLIC seeks a declaratory judgment rendering Chad Jude's life insurance policy null and void due to alleged fraudulent and material misrepresentations made by Mr. Jude in his application, policy amendment to his application, and medical history. [DE. #1 (Complaint)].

         On October 30, 2017, Ms. Laura Stout, an AGLIC underwriter and a deponent in this case, sent a letter to Mr. Jude disclosing AGLIC's decision to rescind his life insurance policy [DE #75-1 (Letter)] on the basis of his alleged failure to fully disclose his medical history. [DE #75-9 at 1-2]. In this letter, Stout makes reference to a condition known as Chiari I malformation and Mr. Jude's “fail[ure] to disclose an MRI performed due to symptoms of dysphagia[, ]” which demonstrated diagnosis of this condition. [Id. at 2 ¶ 3]. Intending to render Mr. Jude's coverage null and void, and thus rescind his policy due to “incorrect and incomplete” answers provided after issuance of the policy, Stout enclosed a voluntary rescission agreement in the letter. [Id.; Id. at 4]. This lawsuit commenced as a result of Mr. Jude's decision not to sign and return the agreement. [See DE #73 at 2; DE #75 at 7].

         The following outline represents the procedural history that ensued relevant to the filing of this motion:

• December 20, 2017: Case deadlines were established in the Court's Scheduling Order. [DE #19].
• February 5, 2018: By joint agreement [see DE #23], the deadlines for Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures were extended from January 18, 2018 to February 23, 2018. [DE #24].
• April 5, 2018: This Court accepted the parties' Agreed Protective Order. See DE #32. [DE #33].
• April 26, 2018: The Judes filed a Motion to Compel Discovery and Impose Sanctions. [DE #34].
• May 4, 2018: AGLIC filed a Response to DE #34. [DE #38].
• May 9, 2018: The Court conducted the first telephonic conference to address the discovery dispute which led to the Judes' Motion to Compel and Impose Sanctions. [DE #40; DE #60].
• During the call, the Court made several rulings as to certain Requests for Interrogatories and Production of Documents outlined in the Judes' motion to compel. Additionally, AGLIC was given deadlines for which to revise its privilege log, and to submit- for an in camera ...

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