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Amos v. Welles

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

March 29, 2019

BILL WELLES, ef al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Michael Don Amos ("Plaintiff) moves the court to compel Defendant Doug Henry Buick GMC, Inc. ("Defendant") to fully and completely respond to requests one, three, and eight of Plaintiffs First Request for Production of Documents. [DE-34]. Defendant opposes the motion. [DE-37]. The issues have been fully briefed, and the motion is ripe for decision. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff claims that his employment with Defendant was terminated in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. See Compl. [DE-5]. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he informed his supervisor of health issues in mid-February 2017, and he was terminated in March 2017 with no disciplinary warning. Id. at 4. Defendant responds that the decision to terminate Plaintiffs employment was based on good cause and legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons, and the decision would have been made regardless of any alleged disability. Answer [DE-18] at 4.

         In December 2018, Plaintiff served Defendant with his First Request for Production of Documents ("First RFP"), to which Defendant objected. [DE-34-1]. Three requests are the subject of the parties' dispute:

1. All documents of the personnel records for the following: Lynn Alderman, Michael Don Amos, Bhobie Belmonte, Nick Burroughs, Jim Carr, Brad Connerton, Joseph Gaskins, Nicolette Dawson, Greg Hemby, Karl Langren, Tony Mallard, Caitlin Opp, Mickey White (Sr), Jonathan Smith, Max Smith, Jennifer Suggs and Michael Tompson. Records should be complete and include any resume and/or application, job position/descriptions outlines, pay plan or compensation agreements, employee w-4 or w-9 form, 1-9 form, any communication between employer and employee whether it be a disciplinary action by the employer to employee or an employment complaint against the employer, any noted observations about employee, separation notices, copy of the acknowledgment of the company handbook of policies and any communications with the North Carolina Department of Employment Security (DES) or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the employee and all COBRA related communications. Any and all other documentation contained in the subject record for any and all the Doug Henry locations.
3. The OEM sales financial statement(s) as reported by Doug Henry Buick GMC, Inc. to the Buick GMC division of the General Motors corporation for the period(s) of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 to date.
8. Documentation of new vehicle sales and the customers of those vehicles as reported to the Buick GMC Division of General Motors for credit of sales production in the month of December 2016 reporting period and copies of the DMV title applications corresponding to each sale.

Id. On January 11, 2019, Defendant responded to the First RFP, objecting to the above-listed ijems on the grounds of overbreadth, vagueness, ambiguity, a failure to seek documents with reasonable particularity, relevancy, burden, disproportionality, and confidentiality. Id.

         The parties conferred by telephone regarding the First RFP on January 28 and February 8, 2019. Def.'s Mem. [DE-37] at 2. Defendant informed Plaintiff of the bases for its objections, and Plaintiff agreed to narrow the scope of his requests. Id. Plaintiff contends that any confidential information may be redacted or addressed by the joint confidentiality agreement in effect in this case. PL's Mot. [DE-34] at 1. Defendant contends that the requests seek highly confidential personnel information and are overbroad, vague, ambiguous, and neither relevant nor proportional to the needs of the case. Def.'s Mem. [DE-37] at 2-9.


         Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides the general rule regarding the 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "Relevancy under this rule has been broadly construed to encompass any possibility that the information sought may be relevant to the claim or defense of any party." Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Sheffield Fin. LLC, No. 1:06CV00889, 2007 WL 1726560, at *3 (M.D. N.C. June 13, 2007); Mainstreet Collection, Inc. v. Kirkland's, Inc., 270 F.R.D. 238, 240 (E.D. N.C. 2010) ("During discovery, relevance is broadly construed 'to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case.'") (quoting Oppenheimer Fund., Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978)).

         Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "[a] party seeking discovery may move for an order compelling an answer, designation, production, or inspection" if a party fails to produce or make available for inspection requested documents under Rule 34. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B)(iv). For purposes of a motion to compel, "an evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or respond." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). However, the Federal Rules also provide that

the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules or by local rule if it determines that: (i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery ...

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