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Evans v. Village Green Care Center, Ltd.

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

March 22, 2018




         This case comes before the court on two motions by defendants Village Green Care Center, Ltd., Village Green Real Estate and Development, and Village Green Rehabilitation (collectively "defendants"): (1) a motion (D.E. 21) to compel responses to discovery requests served on plaintiff Jacqueline Evans ("plaintiff) and to modify the Scheduling Order (D.E. 20), and (2) a motion (D.E. 24) for a status conference. No opposition to either motion has been filed by plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, and the time for doing so has expired. For the reasons set forth below, both motions will be allowed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This employment discrimination case arises out of plaintiff s claim that she was placed on unpaid leave by defendants because of her pregnancy and/or pregnancy-related restrictions in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S. § 2000e, et seq. Compl. (D.E. 5) ¶¶ 4, 6. Defendants deny the material allegations in plaintiffs complaint. See generally Defs.' Ans. (D.E. 11).

         On 26 May 2017, defendants served on plaintiff their first set of discovery requests. Disc. Reqs. (D.E. 21-2). 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 by 28 June 2017. Mot. (D.E. 21) ¶ 9. Defendants made several attempts to remind plaintiff of the overdue responses. Mot. ¶ 6; 10 July 2017 Email (D.E. 21-3); 19 July 2017 Ltr. (D.E. 21-4); 8 Aug. 2017 Email (D.E. 21-5). Plaintiff served no discovery responses, and on 11 August 2017, defendants filed the instant motion to compel. On 13 October 2017, defendants filed a motion to request a status conference with the court. The motions were referred to the undersigned for disposition on 21 December 2017. See D.E. 34.


         The 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).

         The 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-1 l-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))).

         Rule 33 governs interrogatories. 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).

         Rule 34 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." Id. 34(b)(2)(C). Objections not timely asserted are waived. See, e.g., Frontier-Kemper Constructors, Inc., 246 F.R.D. 522, 528 (S.D. W.Va. 2007); Drexel Heritage Furnishings, Inc. v. Furniture USA, Inc., 200 F.R.D. 255, 258 (M.D. N.C. 2001).

         When a 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 discovery responses a privilege log in conformance with Rule 26(b)(5)(A). See id.

         Rule 37 allows for the filing of a motion to compel discovery responses. See Id. 37(a)(3)(B). Rule 37 requires that a motion to compel discovery "include a certification that the movant 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." Id.(a)(1). Similarly, Local Civil Rule 7.1(c), E.D. N.C. requires that "[c]ounsel must also certify that there has been a good faith effort to resolve discovery disputes prior to the filing of any discovery motions." Local Civ. R. 7.1(c) (E.D.N.C); see Jones v. Broadwell, No. 5:10-CT-3223-FL, ...

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