United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DETERMINE THE SUFFICIENCY OF PLAINTIFF'S
RESPONSES TO DEFENDANT'S FIRST SET OF REQUESTS FOR
ADMISSION (Dkt. 106)
A. GOLDSMITH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is now before the Court on Defendant Renee Vives's
motion to determine the sufficiency of Plaintiff Re'Shane
Lonzo's responses to Vives's first requests for
admission (Dkt. 106). Vives served Lonzo with ten requests
for admission on March 29, 2018. Lonzo's response to each
request is identical: “Neither admitted nor denied for
the reason that Plaintiff lacks sufficient knowledge or
information to form a belief to the allegation as
stated.” See Pls. Resp. to Def. Vives First
Set of Requests for Admission, Ex. C. to Def. Mot., at 2-3,
PageID.1139-1140 (Dkt. 106-4). Vives asks that the Court
either compel Lonzo to provide a proper response, or deem the
Sufficiency of Responses
Rule of Civil Procedure 36 governs requests for admission,
and as relevant here, provides:
If a matter is not admitted, the answer must specifically
deny it or state in detail why the answering party cannot
truthfully admit or deny it. A denial must fairly respond to
the substance of the matter; and when good faith requires
that a party qualify an answer or deny only a part of a
matter, the answer must specify the part admitted and qualify
or deny the rest. The answering party may assert lack of
knowledge or information as a reason for failing to admit or
deny only if the party states that it has made reasonable
inquiry and that the information it knows or can readily
obtain is insufficient to enable it to admit or deny.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(4) (emphasis added).
responses to Vives's requests for admission fail to
satisfy this standard. Her responses fail to state that any
inquiry was made, much less that a reasonable one was made.
Failure to do that is a manifest violation of the rule.
See Drutis v. Rand McNally & Co., 236 F.R.D.
325, 330 (E.D. Ky. 2006) (“[A]n answering party must
conduct a reasonable inquiry and answer a RFA if the
information is readily obtainable, even though the answering
party has no personal knowledge of the facts.”).
arguments in response to the motion are entirely without
merit. She appears to argue that she needed the deposition of
Vives to respond fully, but according to Vives, Lonzo has
never requested that deposition. Further, the requests seem
answerable from medical records or MDOC materials, without
the need of a deposition, given that nine of the requests
“ask specific question about which services Renee Vives
provided or owed Richie Majors, ” Pl. Resp. at 3,
PageID.1153 (Dkt. 107), and the other question “asks
about the MDOC's policies concerning prescription
medication, ” id. In any case, whatever
impediments to answering the requests should have been
recited in the responses, not in opposition to the motion.
That goes for any other reasons for failing to admit to which
Lonzo alludes, such as the fact that discovery had closed, or
that she was awaiting a ruling from the Court on a pending
motion to extend the schedule, or that service of the
requests may not have been proper.
is, therefore, ordered to provide supplemental responses to
Vives's first requests for admission. To the extent that
Lonzo makes a reasonable inquiry and the information that she
knows or that is readily accessible to her is insufficient to
enable her to admit or deny the request, she must so state in
her response, as required by the Rule. Boilerplate responses
that she simply lacks knowledge or information do not
suffice. 8B Charles Alan Wright, et al., Federal Practice
& Procedure § 2261 (3d ed.) (“A general
statement that it can neither admit nor deny, unaccompanied
by reasons, will be held an insufficient response.”).
Attorney Fees and Costs
also requests that the Court award attorney's fees.
Federal Rule 37(a)(5)(A) provides that if a party's
motion to compel a discovery response is granted, “the
court must, after giving an opportunity to be heard, require
the party . . . whose conduct necessitated the motion, the
party or attorney advising that conduct, or both to pay the
movant's reasonable expenses incurred in making the
motion, including attorney's fees.” The court must
not order payment if the movant filed the motion before
attempting in good faith to obtain the disclosure without
court action, the opposing party's action was
substantially justified, or other circumstances make an award
of expenses unjust. Id.
counsel stated that he communicated via e-mail with opposing
counsel regarding the nature of the relief to be sought by
way of the instant motion and opposing counsel expressly
denied concurrence. See Def. Mot. at ii,
PageID.1110. Further, the Court finds that Lonzo's
actions were not substantially justified, as they failed to
comply with the text of Rule 36. Accordingly, Lonzo's
counsel is ordered to pay the reasonable expenses incurred by
Vives in making this motion.