United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
RANDY R. ROMFO, Plaintiff,
SCOTTSDALE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
E. Gates United States Magistrate Judge
case comes before the court on the motion to compel (D.E. 21)
by defendant Scottsdale Insurance Company
("defendant"). The motion seeks to compel plaintiff
Randy R. Romfo ("plaintiff) to produce income and
benefits records and/or provide signed authorizations for the
release of those records. Plaintiff filed a response in
opposition to the motion. See D.E. 24. For the
reasons and on the terms set forth below, the motion will be
allowed in part and denied in part.
commenced this case in Wake County (North Carolina) Superior
Court on 6 July 2017, and defendant removed it to this court
on 18 August 2017. See Compl. (D.E. 1-1); Notice of
Removal (D.E. 1). The case arises from injuries plaintiff
suffered on 30 January 2004 in connection with tree removal
work performed by Stephen Witt ("Witt"), who worked
for C&S Tree Service, Inc. ("C&S Tree
Service"). Compl. ¶¶ 7, 8. Plaintiff alleges
that as a result of Witt's negligence, a tree limb fell
on plaintiff, causing serious injuries (id. ¶
8); at the time of the incident, plaintiff was not an
employee of Witt, but an independent contractor (id.
¶¶ 10, 11); and Witt was then covered by a
commercial general liability policy issued to him by
defendant (id. ¶ 12).
August 2008, in a separate action plaintiff brought in Wayne
County (North Carolina) Superior Court, he obtained a
judgment against Witt and C&S Tree Service for his
injuries in the amount of $1.5 million. Id. ¶
42. Plaintiff requested that defendant pay this judgment, but
it refused. Id. ¶ 50. Plaintiff subsequently
commenced this action.
complaint, plaintiff alleges that he is an intended
third-party beneficiary of the insurance policy defendant
issued to Witt. Id. ¶¶ 70, 74. He asserts
claims for declaratory judgment (id.
¶¶51-71) and breach of contract (id.
¶¶ 72-76) against defendant.
June 2018, defendant served plaintiff with its first set of
requests for production of documents. Def's Disc. Req.
(D.E. 22-2). Plaintiff served defendant with responses,
including objections, and documents on 19 July 2018. PL's
Disc. Resp. (D.E. 22-3). Following conferral between counsel,
plaintiff agreed to produce certain additional documents
requested by defendant. After the parties could not come to
an agreement on all of the outstanding requests, defendant
filed the instant motion to compel, seeking either production
of the documents requested or signed release authorizations
for it to obtain them from third parties.
APPLICABLE LEGAL PRINCIPLES
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enable parties to obtain
information by serving requests for discovery on each other,
including 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-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))).
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).
allows for the filing of a motion to compel discovery
responses. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(3)(B). It
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, ...