United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
DAVID C. KEESLER, Magistrate Judge.
THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on "Defendant David Griffin's Motion To Compel" (Document No. 130). This motion has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), and is ripe for disposition. Having carefully considered the motion, the record, and applicable authority, the undersigned will grant the motion in part, and deny the motion in part.
Plaintiff Baker & Taylor, Inc. ("Plaintiff" or "B&T") filed its "Complaint" (Document No. 1) against College Book Rental Company, LLC ("CBR"), Charles Jones ("Jones"), and David Griffin ("Griffin") (collectively "Defendants") on August 24, 2012. The Complaint asserts that Defendant CBR owes Plaintiff "$19, 437, 734.73 for Books CBR ordered, received, and accepted from Baker & Taylor, but for which CBR did not remit payment to Baker & Taylor." (Document No. 1, p.5). The Complaint further asserts that "Jones and Griffin each guaranteed payment of all obligations of CBR to Baker & Taylor by executing personal guaranties." (Document No. 1, p.3). In addition to Plaintiff's claims, Defendant Jones asserted cross-claims against Defendant Griffin on September 18, 2012; and Defendant Griffin asserted cross-claims against Defendant Jones on March 15, 2013. (Document Nos. 8 and 40).
On April 14, 2014, the Court granted the parties' latest "Joint Motion To Amend The Pretrial Order And Case Management Plan" (Document No. 98), with modification. (Document No. 107). In allowing the "Joint Motion To Amend..." the Court noted that Plaintiff and Defendant Griffin had reported that the need for an extension of the discovery deadline was due in part to Defendant Jones' limited availability to be deposed. Id. The existing deadlines in this matter are as follows: discovery - May 16, 2014; mediation report - May 23, 2014; motions - May 30, 2014; and trial October 20, 2014. Id.
On or about May 8, 2014, Plaintiff issued its "Second Amended Notice Of Videotaped Deposition Of Charles Jones" (Document No. 131-1); and on or about May 12, 2014, Defendant Griffin issued his own "Amended Notice Of Deposition of Charles Jones" (Document No. 131-1). See (Document No. 147, p.2). Both of these notices set Defendant Jones' deposition for May 13, 2014, and stated that the deposition would continue from day to day until complete. (Document No. 131-1). The parties do not describe when their initial notices of deposition were issued to Defendant Jones.
It appears to be undisputed that Defendant Jones' deposition was held on May 13, 2014 in Murray, Kentucky; and that Plaintiff's counsel questioned Defendant Jones for approximately six and one half (6½) hours, and Defendant Griffin's counsel questioned Defendant Jones for approximately twenty (20) minutes. At the instruction of counsel, Defendant Jones refused to continue the deposition beyond a total of seven (7) hours, and refused to allow Defendant Griffin's counsel any additional time to question Jones. (Document Nos. 131, 147, and 148). Defendant Jones also refused to answer questions about settlement discussions with Plaintiff Baker & Taylor after Judge Tennille's "Mediated Settlement Conference" on May 6, 2014. Id.; see also, (Document Nos. 133 and 134).
"Defendant David Griffin's Motion To Compel" (Document No. 130) was filed on May 21, 2014. By the instant motion, Defendant Griffin seeks an Order compelling Defendant Jones to: (1) "reappear for the continuation of his examination, " and (2) to "respond to questions about settlement negotiations involving him and B&T." (Document No. 130, p.2). "Defendant Charles Jones's Response To Motion To Compel" (Document No. 147) was filed on June 9, 2014. Also on June 9, 2014, "Plaintiff's Response to Defendant Griffin's Motion To Compel Further Testimony From Defendant Jones" (Document No. 148) was filed. Plaintiff does not oppose Griffin's request to further depose Jones, but does object to an order requiring Jones to respond to questions about settlement negotiations. (Document No. 148). "Defendant David Griffin's Reply In Support Of Motion To Compel" (Document No. 160) was filed on June 19, 2014.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The rules of discovery are to be accorded broad and liberal construction. See Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 177 (1979); and Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947). However, a court may "issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1).
Whether to grant or deny a motion to compel is generally left within a district court's broad discretion. See, Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Inc. v. Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995) (denial of motions to compel reviewed on appeal for abuse of discretion); Erdmann v. Preferred Research Inc., 852 F.2d 788, 792 (4th Cir. 1988) (noting District Court's substantial discretion in resolving ...