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Eddie v. City of Whiteville

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

July 24, 2019

RAQUAY EDDIE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF WHITEVILLE; J. ATKINSON, individually and officially; CARLTON WILLIAMSON, individually and officially; and CLAY COLLIER, individually, Defendants.

          ORDER

          James E. Gales United States Magistrate Judge.

         This case comes before the court on the motion (D.E. 48) by plaintiff Raquay Eddie ("plaintiff') to compel defendant City of Whiteville ("Whiteville") to respond to plaintiffs requests for production of documents, extend deadlines in the Scheduling Order (D.E. 20, amended at D.E. 27, 47), and award him a proportionate sanction. Whiteville has filed a response in opposition to plaintiffs motion. See D.E. 50. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied in part and allowed in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from injuries sustained by plaintiff during his November 2016 arrest by Whiteville law enforcement officers. Am. Compl. (D.E. 32) ¶¶ 14-16. Plaintiff asserts claims in his amended complaint for (1) trespass upon his person by a public officer/assault and battery (id. ¶¶ 39-44); (2) negligence (id. ¶¶ 45-50); (3) use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment (id. ¶¶ 51-58); and (4) abuse of process (id. ¶¶ 59-63). Defendants deny the material allegations of the amended complaint. See generally Defs' Am. Ans. (D.E. 39, 43).

         On 6 December 2018, plaintiff served on Whiteville his first requests for production of documents (D.E. 49-1). As of the date the instant motion was filed, 16 June 2019, Whiteville had not responded to the requests for production of documents. Pl's Mot. (D.E.48). On 21 June 2019, Whiteville served its responses to the requests for production of documents. See 21 June 2019 Cover Ltr. (D.E. 50-1). Whiteville urges the court to deny plaintiffs motion in its entirety as moot.

         II. APPLICABLE LEGAL PRINCIPLES

         The 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).

         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-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))).

         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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(C).

         Rule 37 allows for the filing of a motion to compel discovery responses. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 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) 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, 2013 WL 1909985, at *1 (E.D. N.C. 8 May 2013) (denying motion to compel which did not state that party complied with Rule 37(a) or Local Civil Rule 7.1(c)).

         In addition, Rule 37 requires that the moving party be awarded expenses when a motion to compel discovery is granted or the disclosure is provided after the motion is filed, except when the movant filed the motion without attempting in good faith beforehand to obtain the discovery without court intervention, the opposing party's opposition to the discovery was substantially justified, or other circumstances would make an award of expenses unjust. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(A). If a motion to compel is denied, expenses must be awarded to the person opposing the motion except when the motion was substantially justified or other circumstances would make an award of expenses unjust. Id. (a)(5)(B). If a motion to compel is allowed in part and denied in part, the court may apportion the expenses for the motion. Id. (a)(5)(C).

         III. ...


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