United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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
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.
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.
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'
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.
court turns its attention to defendants' motions to
compel discovery filed in each case below.
Standard of Review
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[.]”).
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.
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 ...