United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
DAVID C. KEESLER, Magistrate Judge.
THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on "Plaintiff's Motion To Compel Discovery" (Document No. 23). 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 Denise Lockie ("Plaintiff" or "Lockie") initiated this action with the filing of a "Complaint" in the Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, on or about August 20, 2014. (Document No. 1-3). Staples Incorporated filed a "Notice Of Removal" (Document No. 1) with this Court on September 19, 2014. Plaintiff's "Amended Complaint" (Document No. 8) against Defendant Staples Contract And Commercial, Inc. ("Defendant" or "Staples") was filed on October 6, 2014. The Amended Complaint asserts causes of action for: (1) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; (2) violation of Title VII for wrongful discharge based on sex; (3) violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; and (4) wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. (Document No. 8, pp.8-12).
The Court entered its "Case Management Order" (Document No. 16) on November 10, 2014. The Case Management Order, inter alia, set the following deadlines: discovery completion - May 5, 2015; ADR report - May 19, 2015; dispositive motions - June 2, 2015; and trial - September 8, 2015. (Document No. 8, p.1).
On or about March 2, 2015, Plaintiff's counsel contacted the undersigned's staff pursuant to the Case Management Order to request a telephone conference regarding a discovery dispute. See (Document No. 16, p.5). The undersigned held a telephone conference on March 5, 2015, but was unable to resolve the parties' dispute. At the end of the telephone conference, Plaintiff's counsel was advised that he could file a motion to compel, if necessary, but that many of the discovery requests in their current form were overly broad and/or vague.
"Plaintiff's Motion To Compel Discovery" (Document No. 23) was filed on March 11, 2015. The pending motion seeks "an Order compelling Defendant to fully respond to Interrogatories 11 and 14 and Requests for Production of Documents 11, 16, 17, and 18." (Document No. 23) (emphasis added); see also, (Document No. 24-2, pp.5-6, 13, 15-16). "Defendant's Response To Plaintiff's Motion To Compel Discovery" (Document No. 25) was filed March 30, 2015; and "Plaintiff's Reply..." (Document No. 26) was filed on April 9, 2015.
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 motions to compel); and LaRouche v. National Broadcasting Co., 780 F.2d 1134, 1139 (4th Cir. 1986) (same).
The undersigned was familiar with the issues in dispute based on the telephone conference held on March 5, 2015, and has carefully reviewed the briefs regarding the pending motion. As an initial matter, the undersigned observes that Plaintiff declined to serve revised discovery requests as suggested during the telephone conference. Instead, Plaintiff's motion appears to seek full responses to certain original discovery requests as drafted, and/or responses to Plaintiff's proposed "compromises." (Document Nos. 23 and 24). While the Court appreciates the parties' efforts to compromise and to narrow the issues, there remains a lack of clarity on what Plaintiff seeks, what has been agreed to, and what remains in dispute.
The undersigned will identify and briefly address each of the discovery requests (and responses) for which Plaintiff now seeks to compel a more complete response.
Interrogatory No. 11
11. Identify all candidates considered for Plaintiff's position after she was terminated, including, but not limited to: their date of birth; whether they were interviewed and (if so) by whom and when; whether they were an internal or external candidate; and whether they ...