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Crossley v. Minnesota Life Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 19, 2017

LAURIE CROSSLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
MINNESOTA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO TERMINATE OR LIMIT DEFENDANT'S DEPOSITION OF PLAINTIFF LAURIE CROSSLEY [13] AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 30(d)(2) [20]

          MONA K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on two competing motions concerning Defendant Minnesota Life Insurance Company's Deposition of Plaintiff, Laurie Crossley: Plaintiff's Motion to Terminate or Limit Defendant's Deposition of Plaintiff Laurie Crossley (docket no. 13), and Defendant's Motion for Sanctions Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(d)(2) (docket no. 20). Defendant filed a Response (docket no. 21) to Plaintiff's Motion, and Plaintiff filed a Response (docket no. 24) to Defendant's Motion. Defendant also filed a Reply in support of its Motion. (Docket no. 27.) The motions have been referred to the undersigned for consideration. (Docket nos. 18, 22.) The Court has reviewed the pleadings and dispenses with oral argument pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2). The Court is now ready to rule pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).

         As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that in Plaintiff's Motion, she fails to indicate that she sought concurrence from Defendant prior to filing the motion in accordance with Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(a). Defendant does not address Plaintiff's efforts to seek concurrence in its Response. “Seeking concurrence from the opponent is a mandatory directive of the Local Rules of this District.” U.S. v. Ramesh, No. 02-80756, 2009 WL 817549, at *6 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 26, 2009). While the Court is inclined to deny Plaintiff's Motion on this basis, it will instead decide Plaintiff's motions on the merits.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's husband died following a motorcycle accident in 2015. Plaintiff filed a claim on her late husband's life insurance policy with Defendant, Minnesota Life Insurance Company, but Defendant denied the claim, citing 1) hospital records which Defendant argues show that the decedent was intoxicated at the time of the crash, and 2) the decedent's life insurance policy, which provides that:

In no event will we pay a benefit where your loss or injury is caused directly or indirectly by, results from, or there is contribution from, any of the following
: . . . .
(6) motor vehicle collision or accident where you are the operator of the motor vehicle and your blood alcohol level meets or exceeds the level at which intoxication is defined in the state where the collision or accident occurred, regardless of the outcome of any legal proceedings connected thereto[.]

(Docket no. 20-3 at 4.)

         The parties convened for Defendant's deposition of Plaintiff on January 25, 2017. (Docket no. 13 at 1.) The dispute concerning the deposition arose when counsel for Defendant began questioning Plaintiff about medical records; in particular, a record from one of the decedent's treating physicians, Dr. David Lang. (Docket no. 20-5.) Dr. Lang wrote that he received the decedent's history from Plaintiff, and that the decedent's “social history, ” includes “[e]ight beers per day.” (Id. at 2.) The following series of exchanges among Defense counsel (Mr. Asmar), Plaintiff, and Plaintiff's counsel (Ms. Trikes) occurred:

Q. And [the document] also says “Eight beers per day.” Do you see that?
A. Yes.
Q. Okay. And this document says that this history is taken from you.
Ms. Trikes [Plaintiff's counsel]: I'm going to object to form and foundation.
Q. You can answer my question.
A. I see that, yes.
Q. Okay. I had asked you whether you told someone at the hospital that your husband drank eight beers a day, and you said no; right?
A. I don't recall saying that.
Q. Okay. So now you don't recall saying that. That's different than a no.
A. No, I did not say that. I don't recall saying that.
Q. “I did not say that” and “I don't recall saying that” are two different things. Okay. Somebody at the hospital, which appears to be Dr. Lang, wrote down that you told him that your husband drank eight beers per day; correct?
Ms. Trikes: I'm objecting to that; form and foundation. And that is not a correct statement. She cannot agree that David Lang wrote that down.
Mr. Asmar [Defendant's counsel]: I understand your objection. Speaking objections- Ms. Trikes: I will not have her answer that question. It's a trick question. You have no proof that it was David Lang who wrote that down.
Mr. Asmar: I'll rephrase the question for her, then.
Q. David Lang-it says “Dictating: David Lang.” Right?
A. Yes.
Q. See that on top? Okay. Flip to the next page. Do you see the top there, “Authenticated by David Lang, D.O., on ...

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