United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
NATHAN E. WILSON, Plaintiff,
FAIRFIELD INN SUITES-MARRIOTT, RDU, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Patrick Auld United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the Court on “Defendant's
Motion to Compel Plaintiff's Responses to Defendant's
Discovery Requests” (Docket Entry 37 (the “Motion
to Compel”)) and Plaintiff's “Motion [for an]
Extension of Time to Answer Defendant Discovery Demands and
Serve Discovery Requests for Answer” (Docket Entry 39
(the “Extension Motion”)). For the reasons that
follow, the Court will grant the Motion to Compel and deny
the Extension Motion.
pro se Amended Complaint alleges disability discrimination by
Defendant in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
of 1990. (See Docket Entry 7 at 1.) At the Initial
Pretrial Conference, the Court set a discovery deadline of
April 30, 2017. (See Text Order dated Oct. 31, 2016
(adopting, in relevant part, Docket Entry 18); see
also Docket Entry 18 at 2 (“The date for the
completion of all discovery (general and expert) should be
April 30, 2017.”).) On December 30, 2016, Defendant
served on Plaintiff its first set of interrogatories and
first request for production of documents (the
“Discovery Requests”). (Docket Entry 38-2 at 2;
see also Docket Entry 38-1 (providing copy of the
Discovery Requests).) On January 19, 2017, Plaintiff moved
for an indefinite extension of time to respond to the
Discovery Requests (Docket Entry 26), but the Court denied
that motion on January 27, 2017 (Text Order dated Jan. 27,
February 10, 2017, Defendant emailed Plaintiff to inquire
about the status of the Discovery Requests (Docket Entry 38-2
at 2; see also id. at 5)). On February 13, 2017,
Plaintiff responded to Defendant's email, stating,
inter alia, that he “request[ed] a
specific time-frame to answer discovery
after 2/17/17.” (Id. at 7 (emphasis
in original) (all-caps font omitted); see also id.
at 2-3.) On February 20, 2017, Defendant emailed Plaintiff,
requesting that he respond within ten days to the Discovery
Requests or, in the alternative, schedule a telephone
conference to discuss discovery issues. (Id. at 3;
see also id. at 13.)
February 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed another motion seeking a
lengthy extension of time to respond to Defendant's
Discovery Requests. (Docket Entry 31.) On March 3, 2017, the
Court denied that motion (Docket Entry 34), and, that same
day, Defendant emailed Plaintiff asking that he provide
either responses to the Discovery Requests by March 10, 2017,
or a time when he could discuss discovery issues (Docket
Entry 38-2 at 3; see also id. at 15). In that same
email, Defendant advised Plaintiff that it would pursue a
motion to compel if he did not respond. (See id. at
15.) Plaintiff failed to respond to either Defendant's
email or the Discovery Requests. (Id. at 3; see
also Docket Entry 38 at 1 (“Plaintiff has
steadfastly failed and refused to provide any response to
Defendant's [Discovery Requests].”).)
result, Defendant filed the Motion to Compel. (Docket Entry
37; see also Docket Entry 38 (supporting
memorandum).) In response, Plaintiff filed the Extension
Motion (Docket Entry 39) requesting an additional 90 days
from April 6, 2017, to respond to the Discovery Requests
(see id. at 1). Defendant has opposed any further
extension. (See Docket Entry 40.)
Motion to Compel
purpose of discovery is to provide a mechanism for making
relevant information available to the litigants.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 advisory committee's note, 1983 amend.
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the
“Rules”), “[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 and proportional to the needs of the case .
. . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Traditionally, the party
opposing discovery bears the burden in a discovery dispute.
See Hughes v. Research Triangle Inst., No.
1:11CV546, 2014 WL 4384078, at *2 (M.D. N.C. Sept. 3, 2014)
(observing that “district judges and magistrate judges
in the Fourth Circuit (including members of this Court) have
repeatedly ruled that the party or person resisting
discovery, not the party moving to compel discovery, bears
the burden of persuasion” (citing Kinetic Concepts,
Inc. v. ConvaTec Inc., 268 F.R.D. 226, 243-44 (M.D. N.C.
the Rules, “a party may serve on any other party . . .
written interrogatories.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(1).
“Each interrogatory must, to the extent it is not
objected to, be answered separately and fully in writing
under oath.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(3). “The
responding party must serve its answers and any objections
within 30 days after being served with the
interrogatories.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(2).
addition, the Rules authorize any party to “serve on
any other party a request . . . to produce and permit the
requesting party or its representative to inspect, copy,
test, or sample [designated documents or electronically
stored information] in the responding party's possession,
custody, or control.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a). “The
party to whom the request is directed must respond in writing
within 30 days after being served.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
34(b)(2)(A). “For each item or category, the response
must either state that inspection and related activities will
be permitted as requested or state with specificity the
grounds for objecting to the request, including the
reasons.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(B). The Rules further
authorize “[a] party seeking discovery [to] move for an
order compelling an answer, designation, production, or
inspection” to discovery requests if “a party
fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule
33” or “fails to produce documents or fails to
respond that inspection will be permitted -or fails to permit
inspection - as requested under Rule 34.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
case, the Court has reviewed the Discovery Requests (Docket
Entry 38-1) and found no obvious defects or improprieties.
However, Plaintiff's Extension Motion contains numerous
statements, arguments, and/or requests that the Court
construes as objections to the Discovery Requests. First, the
Extension Motion “requests the Court order
referral of this case to the E.E.O.C. for further review and
representation for Discovery Demands and trial.”
(Docket Entry 39 at 2 (emphasis in original) (citing
E.E.O.C. v. Sappyann Inc., No. 1:16CV104 (M.D. N.C.
2016)); see also id. at 3.) In that regard, the
Court generally does not refer cases to the E.E.O.C., and the
E.E.O.C. elected not to pursue Plaintiff's ADA claim(s)
(see Docket Entry 2-1 at 1 (“Dismissal and
Notice of Rights”)). Rather, the E.E.O.C.'s
Dismissal and Notice of Rights permits Plaintiff to
pursue his ADA claims in federal court. (See id.
(“You may file a lawsuit against [Defendant] under
federal law based on this charge in federal or state
the Extension Motion asserts that Plaintiff “will
surrender all economic recovery in this action to E.E.O.C. .
. . with the exception of $100 dollars for fuel and
expenses” and “consider donation to a qualified
charity to benefit victims of domestic violence.”
(Docket Entry 39 at 2.) Given that the E.E.O.C. has declined
to litigate this case, Plaintiff's position on this point
does not alter his obligation to respond to the Discovery
the Extension Motion “objects to Defendant['s]
demands for discovery until such time as professional counsel
i[s] available to avoid the fatal compromise of this case due
to Plaintiff's difficulties with disability, experience
and education” and Defendant's superior financial
capabilities. (Id.; see also id. at 3-4.)
Importantly, Plaintiff has requested appointment of counsel
on three prior occasions (see Docket Entries 3, 26,
31), and the Court has sufficiently addressed (and denied)
each of those requests (see Text Orders dated Oct.
31, 2016, and Jan. 27, 2017; Docket Entry 34). The Extension
Motion does not contain ...