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Preferred Carolinas Realty, Inc. v. American Home Realty Network, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

March 28, 2014

PREFERRED CAROLINAS REALTY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN HOME REALTY NETWORK, INC., d/b/a NEIGHBORCITY.COM, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

L. PATRICK AULD, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Compel Written Discovery and 30(b)(6) Deposition. (Docket Entry 42.) For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Defendant's instant Motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this action on March 4, 2013, alleging that Defendant has infringed Plaintiff's copyrights by displaying Plaintiff's photographs on Defendant's website. (Docket Entry 1 at 1.) The adopted Rule 26(f) Report set the discovery deadline for January 1, 2014. (Text Order dated July 3, 2013.)

Defendant served its requests for production of documents on September 25, 2013. (Docket Entry 43 at 3; see also Docket Entry 48 at 4.) On October 28, 2013, Plaintiff responded, agreeing to produce some documents, but objecting to some of the requests. (Docket Entry 43 at 3; see also Docket Entry 48 at 5.) Specifically, Plaintiff objected to Defendant's second and eleventh requests for production as overly broad and insufficiently particular and objected to Defendant's seventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth requests for production as overly broad and irrelevant to the claims and/or copyrighted works at issue. (Docket Entry 48 at 7-12; see also Docket Entry 43-2 at 13-20 (Plaintiff's Responses to Defendant's Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents).) On November 25, 2013, Plaintiff produced documents it previously had committed to make available. (Docket Entry 43 at 3.)

On December 5, 2013, Defendant notified Plaintiff of its intent to take a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition and provided a list of topics. (Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiff produced Daniel Washington, its Senior Vice President of Sales Support, as a Rule 30(b)(6) witness and the Parties conducted the deposition on December 20, 2013. (Id. at 4.) At the deposition, according to Defendant, Mr. Washington did not satisfactorily answer certain questions which Defendant contends properly fit within the topics previously agreed upon by the Parties. (See id. at 14-19.)

Defendant filed the instant Motion to Compel on December 31, 2013. (Docket Entry 42.) Plaintiff responded in opposition. (Docket Entry 48.) Defendant replied. (Docket Entry 59.) Since the close of discovery, Plaintiff has moved for summary judgment (Docket Entry 49) and Defendant has moved for partial summary judgment as to certain claims (Docket Entry 53).

Defendant's instant Motion contends that "Plaintiff has responded with meritless objections to numerous standard requests for production from [Defendant] and has also refused to produce documents pursuant to these requests...." (Docket Entry 43 at 1.) It further argues that Mr. Washington, Plaintiff's Rule 30(b)(6) witness, demonstrated a lack of preparation and ability to answer questions sufficient to constitute a failure to appear. (Id. at 1, 13.) Defendant thus seeks an order requiring Plaintiff to produce documents responsive to the requests to which it objected and to afford Defendant the opportunity to depose an alternate Rule 30(b)(6) witness. (Id. at 2.)

In opposition, Plaintiff contends that Defendant did not timely file its instant Motion as it relates to Defendant's requests for production and that Defendant did not properly meet and confer with Plaintiff with respect to its request for an additional Rule 30(b)(6) deposition. (Docket Entry 48 at 1-2.) On the merits, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant's document requests did not comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34. (Id. at 1.) Plaintiff further argues that Defendant "has not identified any properly noticed questions that [Plaintiff's Rule 30(b)(6)] designee could not answer.... [and Plaintiff] provided... additional information [which] fills any gaps in the designee's original testimony." (Id. at 16.)

II. DISCUSSION

"The purpose of discovery is to provide a mechanism for making relevant information available to the litigants." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 advisory committee's notes, 1983 Amendment. Accordingly, under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "[u]nless otherwise limited by court order... [p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1) (emphasis added). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id .; see also Elkins v. Broome, No. 1:02CV305 , 2004 WL 3249257, at *2 (M.D. N.C. Jan. 12, 2004) (unpublished) ("[R]elevancy at discovery is a far different matter from relevancy at trial. At discovery, relevancy is more properly considered synonymous with germane' as opposed to competency or admissibility."); Flora v. Hamilton , 81 F.R.D. 576, 578 (M.D. N.C. 1978) ("It is clear that what is relevant in discovery is different from what is relevant at trial, in that the concept at the discovery stage is much broader.").

However, "[a]ll discovery is subject to the limitations imposed by Rule 26(b)(2)(C)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Specifically, Rule 26(b)(2)(C) limits discovery where:

(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, ...

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