United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
JONATHAN M. WEIMAR, Plaintiff,
GEICO ADVANTAGE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO COMPEL AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTIONS FOR SANCTIONS
PHAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court by order of reference are Geico Advantage Insurance
Company's (“Geico”) motions to compel
supplemental discovery responses from Jonathan M. Weimar and
for sanctions in the form of legal fees and costs. (ECF Nos.
19 & 20.) For the reasons outlined below, the motions to
compel are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part and the motions
for sanctions are DENIED.
an automobile insurance dispute. Weimar alleges Geico charged
customers a deductible to cover accidents with uninsured
motorists where the uninsured motorists were positively
identified and solely at fault. Weimar contends this is
unlawful under Tennessee state law. Geico concedes this
happened to Weimar, but disputes there was some policy or
practice of wrongfully charging deductibles. Geico also
argues Weimar failed to accurately report that he was using
his car to provide ridesharing services, which Geico argues
is grounds for denying Weimar's individual claim.
29, 2018, Weimar filed a putative class action in Tennessee
state court seeking recovery of the amount paid by Geico
customers toward the allegedly unlawful deductibles.
Discovery quickly became contentious. Geico served a set of
interrogatories and requests for production on Weimar about
his interactions with ridesharing services and about the
“formal notice” Weimar alleges he provided Geico
requesting payment of his claim before filing suit. Weimar
objected to this discovery, though he answered one
interrogatory in what Geico states was an evasive way. Weimar
propounded discovery asking for Geico's claims files
involving uninsured motorist claims from the relevant class
period. Geico objected to this discovery.
year after the suit was filed, the state court ordered Geico
to produce a random sample of 20% of its claims files from
uninsured motorist claims from the relevant class period,
which came out to 1, 366 claims files. At the same time that
Geico made its initial production of the claims files, it
served an interrogatory on Weimar asking him to:
“[p]lease identify by claim number every claim you
allege was improperly handled, whether due to violation of
Tennessee Code Annotated 56-7-1201(c) or otherwise, and
describe in detail the data from the claim file and why you
allege the claim was mishandled.” Weimar objected to
this discovery. However, without waiving objection, Weimar
stated that “Geico improperly handled every [uninsured
motorist] claim where Geico's insured was charged a
deductible, the insured had both collision and uninsured
coverage with Geico, and the operator of the vehicle was
positively identified and solely at fault.” Geico took
the position this response was insufficient and filed a
motion to compel a full response to this interrogatory as
well as the earlier disputed discovery requests.
October 11, 2019, the state court held a hearing on
Geico's motion to compel. At the hearing, the state court
orally ruled on the portion of Geico's motion to compel
dealing with Weimar's interactions with ridesharing
services as follows:
THE COURT: Let me save you some time.
THE COURT: Anything that is requested in terms of
[Weimar's] employment in driving the car, as he was
Ubering, driving his Uber, I'm ordering you to answer
those questions in full.
(ECF No. 19-5 at 2.) The state court also ordered Weimar to
respond to the interrogatory regarding the “formal
state court also orally ruled on the portion of Geico's
motion to compel dealing with the claims file interrogatory.
The court's oral ruling was issued in the following
[COUNSEL FOR WEIMAR]: Your Honor, the basis for the objection
is they didn't ask for rolling identification. They asked
for every claim file that was mishandled. We don't have
all the claim files. We are happy to provide kind of a
rolling basis what they -
THE COURT: It says every claim file that you allege.
[COUNSEL FOR WEIMAR]: That's correct. And we don't
have every claim - we ...