United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division
KIMBERLY A. SWANK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Defendants' motion to
compel discovery pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 and 37 [DE
#109]. Plaintiff has responded [DE #114]. This matter has
been referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A) for disposition. For the reasons stated below,
Defendant's motion to compel is granted in part and
denied in part.
filed his initial compliant [DE #1] on October 2, 2014, and
amended that complaint on May 28, 2015 [DE #51]. Plaintiff
entered into an employment contract with Defendants in
February 2013 (Am. Compl. [DE #51] ¶ 20 at 6); this
contract was allegedly terminated on November 22, 2013 (Am.
Compl. ¶ 116 at 27). The Amended Complaint alleges,
inter alia, that Defendants breached an employment
contract with Plaintiff; discriminated and retaliated against
Plaintiff in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Title VII,
and the Americans with Disabilities Act; and committed
various torts, including defamation concerning
Plaintiff's mental health and physical abilities. (Am.
Compl. at 28-43.) Plaintiff alleges emotional distress and
mental anguish as a result of many of Defendants' alleged
actions that form the basis of Plaintiff's lawsuit. (Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 122, 127, 132, 137, 142, 147, 152,
177-78, 186(c), 191(d), 195, 198, 203.)
Order concerns a discovery dispute regarding Plaintiff's
resistance to Defendants' Interrogatories 12 and 22 and
Requests for Production of Documents (“RPD”) 12
and 39. (Defs.' Mot. Compel [DE #109] at 3.)
seek Plaintiff's full response to Interrogatories 12 and
22 and RPDs 12 and 39. Plaintiff opposes said Interrogatories
and RPDs, in general, on the ground that said requests for
information are overbroad.
Rule 26 provides for a broad scope of discovery:
Parties 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, considering the
importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount
in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant
information, the parties' resources, the importance of
the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden
or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely
benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not
be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Relevance “has been broadly
construed to encompass ‘any possibility' that the
information sought may be relevant to the claim or defense of
any party, ” and the burden rests on the party
resisting discovery to demonstrate that discovery should not
be had. EEOC v. Sheffield Fin., LLC, No.
1:06CV00889, 2007 WL 1726560, at *3 (M.D. N.C. June 13,
requires the court to limit the frequency or extent of
discovery if “the discovery sought is unreasonably
cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other
source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less
expensive”; “the party seeking discovery has had
ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in
the action”; or the discovery sought is outside the
scope of Rule 26(b)(1). Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C). The rule
also authorizes the court to impose appropriate limitations
on discovery in order “to protect a party or person
from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or
expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). Such protective orders
may include, inter alia, provisions
“forbidding the disclosure or discovery, ”
“prescribing a discovery method other than the one
selected by the party seeking discovery, ” or
“forbidding inquiry into certain matters, or limiting
the scope of disclosure or discovery to certain
matters.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(A), (c)(1)(C),
permits a party to move to compel cooperation with discovery
requests so long as that party certifies that it has
“in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with
the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery
in an effort to obtain it without court action.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). The local rules of this district
similarly require that counsel “certify that there has
been a good faith effort to resolve discovery disputes prior
to the filing of any discovery motions.” Local Civil
Rule 7.1. (c)(2); see generally Boykin Anchor Co., Inc.
v. Wong, No. 5:10-CV-591-FL, 2011 WL 5599283, at *3
(E.D. N.C. Nov. 17, 2011) (describing discovery motion
requirements under federal and local rules). Here, Defendants
have made this certification (Defs.' Mot. Compel ¶ 8
at 3), and the documented correspondence contained in the
parties' respective filings confirms that such good faith
effort has been engaged in by both parties (Pl.'s Decl.
Supp. Mem. Opp. Mot. Compel (“Pl.'s Decl.”)
[DE #115] Exs. 6-9; Defs.' Decl. Michael W. Cromwell
(“Cromwell Decl.”) [DE #116] Exs. F-U).
final preliminary matter, Defendants argue that Plaintiff
waived his objections to the contested interrogatories and
RPDs by including only “boilerplate” objections.
(Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Compel [DE #111] at 3.) The court
disagrees. First, as discussed below, some of the
“boilerplate” objections provide legitimate legal
bases for objection. Second, as Plaintiff notes (Pl.'s
Mem. Opp. Mot. Compel at 3-4), the written correspondence
from Plaintiff describes with increased specificity
Plaintiff's objections and proposed compromises
(Pl.'s Decl., Exs. 6, 9).