United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
DAR'SHA L. HARDY Plaintiff,
IRON STREET PROPERTIES, et al., Defendants.
CORBETT O'MEARA DISTRICT JUDGE.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO
COMPEL [18, 28]
K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on two Motions to Compel filed
by Plaintiff Dar'sha L. Hardy. (Docket nos. 18, 28.)
Defendants Iron Street Properties, LLC (d/b/a River Park
Lofts); Boydell Development, Inc.; and Dennis Kefallinos
filed a Response (docket nos. 21, 31) to each of
Plaintiff's Motions, and Plaintiff filed Replies (docket
nos. 22, 33.) The parties also filed a Joint Statement of
Resolved and Unresolved Issues regarding each Motion. (Docket
nos. 23, 38.) The Motions have been referred to the
undersigned for consideration. (Docket nos. 19, 29.) 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).
initiated this action under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1982, and the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3613,
on February 22, 2016. (Docket no. 1.) She claims that she was
discriminated against on the basis of her race and familial
status when, on May 28, 2015, she applied for housing at the
River Park Lofts and was allegedly told by the rental agent,
Ms. Liz Telegadas, that the property has a “[n]o kids
in this building policy, ” and that Plaintiff's son
was a “little bit too young.” (Docket no. 10 at
2-3.) Plaintiff alleges that she was fired from her job
downtown because she could not find nearby housing.
(Id. at 4.) She also alleges that the Fair Housing
Center of Metropolitan Detroit deployed two “testers,
” who were similarly informed that children were not
allowed to live at River Park Lofts. (Id. at 3-4.)
first Motion to Compel (docket no. 18) pertains to
Plaintiff's interrogatories and requests for production
of documents. Plaintiff served these on Defendant on June 24,
2016. Defendant originally refused to respond to the
interrogatories at all, objecting on the basis that
Plaintiff's request exceeded the number allotted by
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33(a)(1). On September 30,
2016, the parties filed their Joint Statement of Resolved and
Unresolved Issues, indicating that Plaintiff would strike
Interrogatory No. 24, and that Defendants would respond to
all parts of Interrogatory Nos. 1-23 “within 14 days,
” or by October 10, 2016. (Docket no. 23 at 2-3.)
Defendants, however, have not yet provided these responses
(see docket no. 38 at 2) and the parties dispute
whether Defendants have waived their right to make any
specific objections to individual interrogatories.
the requests for production of documents, Plaintiff
originally requested, among other documents,
“applications, leases, rental agreements, criminal
background checks, security deposits, and other receipts,
correspondence, and notices of intent to evict” on all
housing property/communities owned or operated by Defendants
and any past or present members of the board of directors of
Defendant Boydell Development, Inc., from May 28, 2012, to
present. (Docket no. 23 at 2; see also docket no.
18-2 at 14-16 (Request for Production of Documents Nos.
1-5).) Defendant originally objected on the basis that each
of Plaintiff's requests was “overly broad, unduly
burdensome, vague, ambiguous, and not reasonably
specific.” (See Docket no. 18-2 at 14-16.)
Defendant has since agreed to produce those documents as they
pertain to the River Park Lofts, only, and not as to any
other buildings or communities. (Docket no. 23 at 2.)
Regarding the documents as they pertain to other buildings or
communities, Defendants argue: “None of the documents
Plaintiff requested sought information about the number of
children residing in Defendants' property. Furthermore,
Plaintiff's request was seeking documents from 2012 until
present, which would be extremely burdensome for Defendants
to produce.” (Docket no. 21 at 8.)
second Motion to Compel pertains to depositions of the rental
agent at River Park Lofts, Ms. Liz Telegadas, and Defendant
Dennis Kefallinos. (Docket no. 28.) Plaintiff contends that,
despite being properly noticed through U.S. Mail and
electronically, counsel for Defendants failed to produce the
two witnesses for deposition. Defense counsel claims he never
received the deposition notices through the mail, and
presents an affidavit from his long-time office assistant,
Ms. Lisa Bezzo, stating the same. (Docket no. 31-1.) He
therefore argues that the depositions were not properly
noticed, and that he was unaware the depositions were going
to take place. (Docket no. 31 at 6-7.)
GOVERNING LAW & ANALYSIS
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, is
relevant to any party's claim or defense, and is
proportional to the needs of the case. 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. Information need not be
admissible in evidence to be discoverable. Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). 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).
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 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 the means to file a motion to compel. Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(a)(3). 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.
to the parties' Joint Statement of Resolved and
Unresolved Issues (docket no. 23), the only issues remaining
with regard to the interrogatories are whether Defendants
have waived their right to make further objections (beyond
their initial objection that Plaintiff served too many
interrogatories). The Court ...