United States District Court, Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division
CHRISTOPHER PRACHT, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Eric F. Lee, Plaintiff,
GREENWOOD MOTOR LINES, INC. d/b/a R CARRIERS, and R&L TRANSFER, INC., Intervenor Plaintiffs
SAGA FREIGHT LOGISTICS, LLC and TOMAS HERRERA, JR., Defendants.
DAVID C. KEESLER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on Defendant Saga Freight Logistics, LLC’s “Notice Of Motion And Motion To Compel” (Document No. 59). 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 to compel.
Christopher Pracht (“Plaintiff” or “Pracht”), as Personal Representative of the Estate of Eric F. Lee (“Mr. Lee”), initiated this action with the filing of a “Complaint” (Document No. 1-1) in the Superior Court Division of Gaston County, North Carolina, on or about August 15, 2013, Christopher Pracht, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Eric F. Lee v. Saga Freight Logistics, LLC and Tomas Herrera, Jr., 13-CVS-3166. (Document No. 1). Plaintiff’s Complaint contends that Tomas Herrera (“Herrera”) was operating a 2001 Freightliner tractor trailer owned by and/or operated under the authority of Saga Freight Logistics, LLC (“Saga Freight”) on October 13, 2011. (Document No. 1-1, p.5). Plaintiff further contends that Herrera was operating the Saga Freight tractor trailer at an unsafe rate of speed which led Mr. Lee, who was operating another tractor trailer, to collide with the Saga Freight vehicle on I-85 near Gastonia, North Carolina. (Document No. 1-1, p.5). The collision caused an explosion and fire that killed Mr. Lee. Id.
Defendant Saga Freight filed its “Notice Of Removal” (Document No. 1) to this Court on September 23, 2013. “Defendant Saga Freight Logistics, LLC’s Answer To Plaintiff’s Complaint” (Document No. 3) was also filed on September 23, 2013.
Greenwood Motor Lines, Inc. d/b/a R Carriers and R&L Transfer, Inc. (“R Plaintiffs”) filed a “…Motion To Intervene” (Document No. 13) on November 1, 2013. The R Plaintiffs contend that Lee was operating a tractor trailer owned and operated by the R Plaintiffs at the time of the aforementioned accident, and that they have sustained damages due to the alleged negligence of Saga Freight and Herrera (together “Defendants”). (Document No. 13, p.2). The R Plaintiffs’ “…Motion To Intervene” (Document No. 13) was allowed by the Court on April 2, 2014. (Document No. 31). Also on April 2, 2014, the Court denied “Defendant Herrera’s Motion To Remand And Motion To Stay…” (Document No. 17). Id. On April 9, 2014, the “Intervenor Plaintiffs . . . Complaint” (Document No. 33) was filed.
Now pending before the Court is Defendant Saga Freight’s “. . . Motion To Compel” (Document No. 59) filed on February 1, 2015. R Plaintiffs’ “…Brief In Opposition To Saga Freight Logistics, LLC’s Motion To Compel” (Document No. 64) was filed on February 20, 2015. Saga Freight’s “…Reply Memorandum In Support…” was filed on February 27, 2015, and then on March 9, 2015, Saga Freight filed a “…Supplemental Memorandum…” (Document No. 69).
The pending motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.
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 ...