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Davis v. John Hiester Chrysler Dodge Jeep, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

October 27, 2017

DUANE DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN HIESTER CHRYSLER DODGE JEEP, LLC and HIESTER AUTOMOTIVE GROUP, INC., Defendants. NEFFERTITI HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN HIESTER CHEVROLET OF LILLINGTON, LLC and HIESTER AUTOMOTIVE GROUP, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         These matters come before the court on defendants' motions to compel discovery. (Davis, DE 52; Harris, DE 51). The issues raised are ripe for adjudication. For the reasons addressed below, this court reopens the discovery period in each case until November 27, 2017, solely to allow plaintiffs to respond to defendants' discovery requests propounded July 17, 2017. The court taxes defendants with the reasonable costs and fees of plaintiff's respective defenses of the instant motions to compel, and denies defendants' motions in each case to compel discovery as moot. Additionally, the court grants plaintiffs' motion to strike (Davis, DE 61; Harris, DE 60) defendants' replies to responses to motions to compel discovery responses.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 28, 2016, plaintiffs initiated these actions alleging race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et. seq., and under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff in the Harris case adds a claim for sex discrimination. Plaintiffs also assert a claim for wrongful discharge under North Carolina law.

         Plaintiffs in each case filed motion for entry of default on June 6, 2016. Defendants in each case filed an answer to plaintiff's complaint on June 9, 2016, but did not file a separate response to plaintiffs' motions or offer explanation of what cause, if any, existed for the acceptance of defendants' late answer. Following a court order to provide a response and explanation, defendants in each case filed a motion to allow answer, which the court granted on August 31, 2016.

         Pursuant to case management orders, separately entered in the cases on October 14, 2016, discovery closed on June 5, 2017. By the parties' consent, the court extended for 45 days the discovery period through and including July 20, 2017, solely for plaintiffs to conduct depositions of defendants' witnesses.

         On June 2, 2017, defendants in each case filed a motion for extension of time to complete discovery. These requests vigorously were opposed upon protracted briefing where, upon motion, each plaintiff also was allowed to file a sur-reply. Over plaintiffs' shared objections, on July 11, 2017, the court granted defendants' motions for extension of time to complete discovery, extending through entry of the forms orders originally proposed June 2, 2017, the discovery period until July 20, 2017.[1]

         The court turns its attention to defendants' motions to compel discovery filed in each case below.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 provides that when a party fails to respond to discovery, the party seeking discovery can move for an order compelling production. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). When addressing a motion to compel discovery, the trial court holds broad discretion. See LaRouche v. Nat'l Broadcasting Co., Inc., 780 F.2d 1134, 1139 (4th Cir. 1986) (“A motion to compel discovery is addressed to the sound discretion of the district court.”); see also Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Inc. v. Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995) (“This Court affords a district court substantial discretion in managing discovery and reviews the denial or granting of a motion to compel discovery for abuse of discretion.”); Cook v. Howard, 484 Fed.Appx. 805, 812 (4th Cir. 2012) (“District courts are afforded broad discretion with respect to discovery[.]”).

         B. Analysis

         Defendants move for orders from this court, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a), compelling plaintiffs fully to respond to defendants' first requests for production, first requests for admission, and first interrogatories separately served on plaintiffs July 17, 2017 and their supplemental discovery requests served July 19, 2017. Defendants argue that because the court granted defendants' motions for extension of time on July 11, 2017, “extending the discovery period for Defendant to complete discovery until July 20, 2017, ” (Davis, DE 38; Harris, DE 37), defendants had until July 20, 2017 to propound their discovery requests.

         Plaintiffs respectively contend that each plaintiff did not have to respond to defendants discovery requests, because the Rules of Civil Procedure provide 30 days to respond to a requesting party's request for interrogatories and request for production, and each plaintiff received defendants' initial discovery requests three days before ...


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