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Keathley v. Grange Insurance Company of Michigan

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

March 30, 2017

TIMIKA KEATHLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
GRANGE INSURANCE COMPANY OF MICHIGAN, Defendant.

          Mona K. Majzoub United States Magistrate Judge

         OPINION AND ORDER (1) OVERRULING IN PART AND SUSTAINING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE MAJZOUB'S JUNE 30, 2016 ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S FIRST MOTION TO COMPEL AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S SECOND MOTION TO COMPEL (ECF NO. 45); (2) REVERSING IN PART THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S JUNE 30, 2016 ORDER (ECF NO. 43); (3) GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL (ECF NO. 8); (4) ORDERING DEFENDANT TO SUBMIT CERTAIN DOCUMENTS TO THE COURT FOR IN CAMERA REVIEW; (5) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE MAJZOUB'S JANUARY 19, 2017 ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS AND TO COMPEL (ECF NO. 54); (6) AFFIRMING THE JANUARY 19, 2017 ORDER (ECF NO. 53); (7) ORDERING LIMITED DISCOVERY REGARDING GRANGE'S FAILURE TO PRODUCE CERTAIN PHOTOGRAPHS; AND (8) DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR STATUS ON PENDING MOTIONS (ECF NO. 51)

          PAUL D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are two sets of Objections (ECF Nos. 45 and 54) filed by the Plaintiff to two separate non-dispositive Orders issued by Magistrate Judge Majzoub on June 30, 2016 (ECF No. 43) and January 19, 2017 (ECF No. 53). Defendant has filed Responses to both sets of Objections (ECF Nos. 47 and 56, Responses) and Plaintiff filed a Reply to Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Objections to the 1/19/17 Order (ECF No. 57, Reply). Having reviewed the Orders and the Objections pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), the Court overrules in part and sustains in part Plaintiff's Objections and affirms in part and reverses in part the Magistrate Judge's Orders for the reasons that follow.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In this action, Plaintiff seeks to recover under a policy of insurance issued by Defendant Grange Insurance Company (“Grange”) for loss due to water damage Plaintiff claims occurred at her home as a result of frozen/burst pipes. Grange has denied coverage for a variety of reasons, including that the Plaintiff allegedly “failed to exhibit the damaged property to Grange.” Plaintiff has filed numerous motions to compel discovery, and most recently filed a motion for sanctions for Grange's alleged failure to comply with Magistrate Judge Majzoub's discovery Orders. Dissatisfied with the Magistrate Judge's resolution of her motions, Plaintiff has filed Objections to Magistrate Judge Majzoub's June 30, 2016 and July 19, 2017 Orders.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a) both provide that a district judge must modify or set aside any portion of a magistrate judge's non-dispositive pretrial order found to be "clearly erroneous or contrary to law." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). The United States Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals have stated that “a finding is ‘clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948) (explaining the clearly erroneous standard under Rule 52(a)); Hagaman v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, 958 F.2d 684, 690 (6th Cir. 1992) (quoting U.S. Gypsum Co.). See also United States v. Mandycz, 200 F.R.D. 353, 356 (E.D. Mich. 2001) (explaining the standard under Rule 72(a)).

         This standard does not empower a reviewing court to reverse the Magistrate Judge's finding because it would have decided the matter differently. Anderson v. City of Bessemer City, N.C. , 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985) (interpreting the clearly erroneous standard in Rule 52(a)). The Sixth Circuit has noted that: “[t]he question is not whether the finding is the best or only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence, or whether it is the one which the reviewing court would draw. Rather, the test is whether there is evidence in the record to support the lower court's finding, and whether its construction of that evidence is a reasonable one.” Heights Cmty. Cong. v. Hilltop Realty, Inc., 774 F.2d 135, 140 (6th Cir. 1985).

         “The ‘clearly erroneous' standard applies only to the magistrate judge's factual findings; his legal conclusions are reviewed under the plenary ‘contrary to law' standard. . . . Therefore, [the reviewing court] must exercise independent judgment with respect to the magistrate judge's conclusions of law.” Haworth, Inc. v. Herman Miller, Inc., 162 F.R.D. 289, 291 (W.D. Mich. 1995) (citing Gandee v. Glaser, 785 F.Supp. 684, 686 (S.D. Ohio 1992)). “‘An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure.'” Mattox v. Edelman, No. 12-13762, 2014 WL 4829583, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 29, 2014) (quoting Ford Motor Co. v. United States, No. 08-12960, 2009 WL 2922875, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 9, 2009)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Plaintiff's 7/14/16 Objections to the Magistrate Judge's 6/30/16 Order

         Plaintiff asserts three objections to the Magistrate Judge's 6/30/16 Order:

         (1) “Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's Order allowing Grange to submit an affidavit as to whether its document production was complete as the Affidavit submitted is vague and raises more ...


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