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Fedora v. Lollar

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

June 20, 2017

SHIRLEY ANN FEDORA, Plaintiff,
v.
ALISHA SANE LOLLAR, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Dennis L. Howell, United States Magistrate Judge

         Pending before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (#24) requesting that the Court overrule Defendant's objections contained in Defendant's Responses to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents (#24-1) and any objections presented by Defendant in Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Second Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents. (Def's Exhibit D-2) which were not yet due and had not been served. The Plaintiff further requested the Court to order Defendant to waive any objections raised by Defendant based upon attorney/client privilege and work product privilege. (#24, p. 2.) Discovery in the case was to close on June 15, 2017 and as a result, the Court ordered Defendant to respond to the Motion to Compel by May 25, 2017 and set a hearing for the Motion to Compel for June 6, 2017. (#27) Both the pro se Plaintiff and counsel for Defendant were required to appear for the hearing on June 6, 2017. Defendant filed a Response (#28) to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel on May 26, 2017. On June 6, 2017, the Court conducted a hearing of Plaintiff's Motion to Compel. Plaintiff did not appear but counsel for Defendant did appear. After hearing arguments of counsel for Defendant, the Court orally denied Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (#24).

         On June 8, 2017, Defendant's counsel filed an Affidavit in Support of Attorney Fees (#30) and Plaintiff filed a letter (#31) providing Plaintiff's reasons for her non-appearance at the hearing of the motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint (#1) on February 3, 2016 alleging she was injured in an automobile accident that occurred in Cleveland County, North Carolina on February 14, 2013 when Defendant failed to reduce speed of the vehicle Defendant was operating and struck the vehicle Plaintiff was operating in the rear resulting in injury to Plaintiff.

         Defendant responded to the Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents on January 29, 2017 (#24-1) and to the Plaintiff's Second Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents on May 31, 2017 (Def's Exhibit #2). The interrogatories and requests seek a broad and sweeping group of information such as; requesting a history of all insurance coverages for Defendant for ten years preceding the subject accident (#24-1, Nos. 5 and 3.); the identity of each medical care provider of Defendant for ten years prior to the accident (#24-1, Nos. 6 and 4.); Defendant's work history for ten years (#24-1, No. 7.); all statements of witnesses pertaining to the accident (#24-1, No. 1.); copies of all driving records of the Department of Motor Vehicles for ten years prior to the accident (not limited to just the defendant) (#24-1, No. 2.); and all documents of Farm Bureau Insurance Company which relate to offers of settlement (#24-1, No. 8.). Defendant responded to the interrogatories and the requests, but objected to many of the discovery requests as being overly broad and burdensome and also raised the privilege of work product and attorney/client privilege. Defendant also objected to requests for medical records and medical information of Defendant based upon the fact that such requests sought confidential medical information of Defendant.

         II. Legal Standard

         Generally speaking, parties are entitled to discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any claim or defense. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1) states:

(1)Scope in General. Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: 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' 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.

         III. Analysis

         At the hearing, the Court heard from Defendant's counsel as to the Plaintiff's motion and considered the briefs filed by Plaintiff and defense counsel. In Defendant's Response, Defendant contends the automobile accident was a low impact collision and Defendant did not observe any damage to Plaintiff's vehicle. Defendant further contends that Plaintiff did not express any physical complaints at the time of the accident; did not request medical attention; and asked the investigating officer if she could leave the scene because she was eager to catch a flight to Florida. (#28, p. 2.) Photographs of the vehicles involved in the accident were presented by Defendant. (#28-1, pp. 1 through 11.) which showed only slight damage to the vehicles. The Court now enters this Order to prefect the record.

         A. Defendant's Responses to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents (#24-1)

No. 1: The Court finds this interrogatory has been answered by the Defendant.
No. 2: The Court finds this interrogatory has been answered by the Defendant.
No. 3: The Court finds this interrogatory has been answered by Defendant.
No. 4: The Court finds this interrogatory has been answered. Defendant provided to the Plaintiff a copy of Defendant's driver's license which would allow Plaintiff to obtain these records.
No. 5: The Court sustains the objection of the Defendant. The Court has considered the factors as set forth under Fed.R.Civ. P. 26(b)(1) and finds that the information sought by this interrogatory has no relevance to the claims asserted in the Plaintiff's Complaint.
No. 6: The Court sustains the objection of the Defendant. The Court has considered the factors as set forth under Fed.R.Civ. P. 26(b)(1) and finds that the information sought by this interrogatory has no relevance to the claims asserted in Plaintiff's Complaint. The Court further finds that the assertion of the medical ...

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