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Ehrenberg v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 16, 2018

TINA EHRENBERG
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY

         SECTION: “L” (1)

          ELDON E. FALLON JUDGE

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANIS VAN MEERVELD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Motion to Compel filed by plaintiff Tina Ehrenberg. (Rec. Doc. 44). For the following reasons, the Motion is DENIED. Plaintiff's request for oral argument (Rec. Doc. 45) is DENIED.

         Background

         Ms. Ehrenberg alleges that she suffered back, neck, and right shoulder injuries as a result of an October 31, 2014, accident in which she was struck by a motor vehicle when crossing Canal Street in New Orleans. She settled her claim with the driver's insurer for the driver's policy limits of $25, 000. She alleges that this was insufficient to cover all of her bodily injury losses. She claims that State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”) provided her a policy of uninsured/underinsured insurance, and she has filed this lawsuit against State Farm seeking to recover damages to compensate her for all of her injuries and losses. Her alleged injuries include: medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress.

         Discovery Issue

         State Farm noticed the deposition of Leah T. Rome, which was held on March 26, 2018. It is not apparent from the documents before the Court whether she was subpoenaed or whether she appeared voluntary. Ms. Rome was employed by the law firm of Plaintiff's husband Harold Ehrenberg, where Ms. Ehrenberg also worked as an office administrator. Ms. Rome testified regarding her observations of Ms. Ehrenberg's physical capabilities. For example, she testified that she observed Ms. Ehrenberg lifting file boxes prior to her surgery in September 2017. Ms. Rome ceased employment with the Ehrenberg law firm in February 2018. It appears there is some dispute over whether she was fired or she quit. Her testimony indicates some personal issues arose between Ms. Ehrenberg and Ms. Rome arising after Ms. Ehrenberg hired a secretary that Ms. Rome was asked to train and to whom some of Ms. Rome's work was assigned. According to State Farm's counsel, Ms. Rome felt intimidated or threatened by the questioning of Ms. Ehrenberg's counsel, who asked about her children, her prior employment, and her treatment for depression. Ms. Rome refused to answer these questions.

         Following the deposition, Ms. Ehrenberg's counsel emailed State Farm's the following questions about Ms. Rome, and insisted that State Farm assist in obtaining answers because State Farm intends to call Ms. Rome as a witness:

1. Her background including former employment;
2. Her legal field experience for the last fifteen years (which would include who she worked for, what she did for them, and how she left their employment).
3. Her medical treatment and the reason she is prescribed Celexa.

(Rec. Doc. 44-2). Counsel for State Farm refused to answer, noting that he does not represent Ms. Rome and suggesting that Ms. Ehrenberg's counsel reach out to Ms. Rome directly. State Farm also asserted that the requests were irrelevant because it only intended to call Ms. Rome as a witness regarding “her knowledge and observations of Mrs. Ehrenberg's physical conditions/abilities, pre and post-surgery.” Id. This motion to compel followed.

         Law ...


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