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Spigno v. Precision Pipeline, LLC

United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division

March 13, 2015

STEFANO SPIGNO, Plaintiff,
v.
PRECISION PIPELINE, LLC, and ALAN GANSCH, Defendants.

DAVID M. LAWSON DISTRICT JUDGE

OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO COMPEL [40]

MONA K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Stefano Spigno’s Motion to Compel the Production of Documents from Defendant Precision Pipeline, LLC and For Other Relief. (Docket no. 40.) Defendant responded to Plaintiff’s Motion (docket no. 49), and Plaintiff replied to Defendant’s Response (docket no. 55). The parties have also filed a Joint Statement of Resolved and Unresolved Issues. (Docket no. 56.) The Motion has been referred to the undersigned for consideration. (Docket no. 42.) The undersigned 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).

I. Background

This case arises from a December 14, 2012 automobile accident. (See docket no. 50.) In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Alan Gansch[1] was operating a truck within the scope of his employment or agency with Defendant Precision Pipeline, LLC, when he negligently rear-ended Plaintiff’s motor vehicle, causing Plaintiff to suffer multiple injuries. (Id.) Plaintiff served Defendant with a Second Request for Production of Documents on July 16, 2014, and a Third Request for Production of Documents on August 6, 2014. (Docket no. 40 ¶¶ 2, 4; docket no. 40-2; docket no. 40-3.) Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Compel on October 21, 2014, alleging that Defendant did not respond to his Second or Third Requests for Production of Documents. (Docket no. 40.) In his Motion, Plaintiff seeks production of the requested documents, permission to obtain additional discovery on the issues that are the subject of the production requests if Plaintiff’s counsel deems it necessary upon production of the documents, and attorney’s fees and costs. (Id. at 3-4.)

Defendant responded to Plaintiff’s Motion on November 7, 2014, asserting that Plaintiff’s Motion should be denied as moot because Defendant responded to Plaintiff’s Second Request for Production of Documents on August 18, 2014, and provided supplemental responses and documents in response to Plaintiff’s Second and Third Requests for Production on November 7, 2014. (Docket no. 49 at 6-7; docket no. 49-4; docket no. 49-5.) Plaintiff replied that although Defendant’s November 7, 2014 response to Plaintiff’s Third Request for Production of Documents indicates that it is a supplemental response, Plaintiff never received an initial response from Defendant to his Third Request for Production. (Docket no. 55 at 3.) Plaintiff also raises new issues in his Reply brief regarding Defendant’s objections and answers to Request for Production (RFP) nos. 1-4 and 10-11 of his Third Request for Production of Documents. (Id. at 5-8.) Defendant did not seek leave to file a Sur-Reply to address Plaintiff’s newly-raised issues and did not respond to those issues in the parties’ Joint Statement of Resolved and Unresolved Issues filed on December 1, 2014. (Docket no. 56.)

II. Governing Law

The scope of discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is traditionally quite broad. Lewis v. ACB Bus. Servs., 135 F.3d 389, 402 (6th Cir. 1998). Parties may obtain discovery on any matter that is not privileged and is relevant to any party’s claim or defense if it is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). “Relevant evidence” is “evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 401. But the scope of discovery is not unlimited. “District courts have discretion to limit the scope of discovery where the information sought is overly broad or would prove unduly burdensome to produce.” Surles ex rel. Johnson v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., 474 F.3d 288, 305 (6th Cir. 2007).

Rules 33 and 34 allow a party to serve interrogatories and requests for production of documents on an opposing party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33, 34. A party receiving these types of discovery requests has thirty days to respond with answers or objections. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(2), 34(b)(2)(A). Rule 30 allows a party to conduct a deposition of any person without leave of the Court, subject to certain exceptions. Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(a)(1). If the party receiving discovery requests under Rules 33 or 34 fails to respond properly, or if the person whose deposition is sought under Rule 30 fails to properly comply with the rule, Rule 37 provides the party who sent the discovery or noticed the deposition the means to file a motion to compel. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). If a court grants a Rule 37 motion to compel, or if discovery is received after a Rule 37 motion is filed, then the court must award reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees to the successful party, unless the successful party did not confer in good faith before the motion, the opposing party’s position was substantially justified, or other circumstances would make an award unjust. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(A).

III. Analysis

According to the parties’ Joint Statement of Resolved and Unresolved Issues, the only remaining issues are those Plaintiff raises in his Reply brief regarding Defendant’s responses to RFP nos. 1-4 and 10-11 of Plaintiff’s Third Request for Production of Documents. (Docket no. 56 at 2.) Although these issues should have been raised in a separate motion, the Court will address them below. As noted above, Defendant had the opportunity to substantively address Plaintiff’s arguments regarding these RFPs in the parties’ Joint Statement, but did not do so.

A. Request for Production No. 1

Plaintiff’s RFP no. 1 requests a complete copy of Defendant Gansch’s personnel file. (Docket no. 49-5 at 7.) In its discovery response, Defendant Precision Pipeline, LLC referred Plaintiff to Defendant Gansch’s pay records, contracts, W-2s, and time sheets, which had been previously produced. (Id.) Defendant then objected to this RFP as overbroad and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence to the extent that Plaintiff sought any additional documents. (Id.) Plaintiff argues that documents in Defendant Gansch’s personnel file may provide evidence regarding whether Defendant Gansch was an employee of Defendant Precision Pipeline, LLC and may define his ...


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