United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
E. Gates United States Magistrate Judge.
case comes before the court, in part, on the motion (D.E. 20)
by defendant North Carolina Department of Public Safety to
compel responses to discovery requests it served on plaintiff
Angela Miles Stephens ("plaintiff), who is represented
by counsel. Defendant also moves (D.E. 21) to amend the
Scheduling Order (D.E. 17) in this case. Defendant attached
to its motion to amend the Scheduling Order a purported
response (D.E. 21-1) to the motion to compel served by
plaintiff, though no opposition to either motion has been
filed by plaintiff with the court. For the reasons set forth
below, the motion to compel will be allowed, and the motion
to amend the Scheduling Order will be allowed in part and
denied in part.
case arises out of plaintiff s claims for retaliation for
exercising legal rights pursuant to Title VII, 42 U.S. §
2000e-3(a), relating to her failure to be hired for positions
to which she applied. Compl. (D.E. 7-1) ¶¶ 55-62.
She also asserts a state-law retaliation claim for failure to
hire pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-422.2.
Id. ¶¶ 63-69. Defendant denies the
material allegations in plaintiffs complaint. See
generally Def.'s Ans. (D.E. 11).
June 2017, defendant served on plaintiff its first set of
interrogatories and requests for production of documents.
Disc. Reqs. (D.E. 20-1). Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 5(b)(2)(C),
6(d), 33(b)(2), and 34(b)(2)(A), plaintiffs responses to the
discovery requests were required to be served within 30 days.
Mot. ¶¶ 2, 3. On 27 September 2017, defendant
advised plaintiff that her responses were overdue.
Id. ¶ 2; 27 Sept. 2017 Email to PI. (D.E.
20-2). On 18 October 2017, defendant again reminded plaintiff
of the overdue responses and informed plaintiff that a motion
to compel would be filed by 23 October 2017 if it did not
receive the responses by that date. Mot. ¶ 3; 18 Oct.
2017 Email to PI. (D.E. 20-3). In a responsive email,
plaintiff assured defendant that responses would be served by
that deadline. 18 Oct. 2017 Email to Def. (D.E. 20-3).
Plaintiff served no discovery responses and on 24 October
2017, defendant filed the instant motion.
noted, in connection with its motion to amend the Scheduling
Order, defendant annexed a purported response to the motion
to compel from plaintiff stating that she "will respond
to the Defendant's discovery responses within two days of
the entry of any order on this motion." 7 Nov. 2017
Resp. (D.E. 21-1). Aside from this document provided by
defendant, plaintiff did not properly file with the
court any response to the motion to compel or motion to amend
the Scheduling Order.
APPLICABLE LEGAL PRINCIPLES
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enable parties to obtain
information by serving requests for discovery on each other,
including interrogatories and requests for production of
documents. See generally Fed. R. Civ. P. 26-37. 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).
district court has broad discretion in determining relevance
for discovery purposes. Seaside Farm, Inc. v. United
States, 842 F.3d 853, 860 (4th Cir. 2016); Watson v.
Lowcountry Red Cross, 974 F.2d 482, 489 (4th Cir. 1992).
The party resisting discovery bears the burden of
establishing the legitimacy of its objections. Eramo v.
Rolling Stone LLC, 314 F.R.D. 205, 209 (W.D. Va. 2016)
("[T]he party or person resisting discovery, not the
party moving to compel discovery, bears the burden of
persuasion." (quoting Kinetic Concepts, Inc. v.
ConvaTec Inc., 268 F.R.D. 226, 243 (M.D. N.C. 2010)));
Brey Corp. v. LQ Mgmt., L.L.C., No.
AW-11-cv-00718-AW, 2012 WL 3127023, at *4 (D. Md. 26 Jul.
2012) ("In order to limit the scope of discovery, the
'party resisting discovery bears the burden of showing
why [the discovery requests] should not be
granted.'" (quoting Clere v. GC Servs.,
L.P., No. 3:10-cv-00795, 2011 WL 2181176, at *2
(S.D.W.Va. 3 June 2011))).
governs interrogatories. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33. It provides that
"[u]nless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court,
a party may serve on any other party no more than 25 written
interrogatories, including all discrete subparts."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(1). Rule 33 requires that a party served
with interrogatories answer each fully under oath to the
extent that the party does not object to the interrogatory.
Id. (b)(3). Objections not made timely are waived,
subject to the court excusing the untimeliness for good
cause. Id. (b)(4).
governs requests for production of documents. A party
asserting an objection to a particular request "must
specify the part [to which it objects] and permit inspection
of the rest." Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(C).
party withholds information on the basis of privilege,
including work-product protection, it must expressly assert
the privilege objection in response to the particular
discovery request involved. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(5)(A). In
addition, the party must serve with its ...