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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Spencer Gifts, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

September 27, 2019

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
SPENCER GIFTS, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          David C. Keesler United States Magistrate Judge

         THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on Plaintiff’s “Motion To Compel Discovery Responses And Entry Upon Land And For Costs” (Document No. 28). This motion has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), and is ripe for disposition. Having carefully considered the motion, the record, and applicable authority, the undersigned will grant the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“Plaintiff” or “EEOC”) initiated this action with the filing of a “Complaint” (Document No. 1) on September 26, 2018. The Complaint contends that Spencer Gifts, LLC (“Defendant” or “Spencer Gifts”) failed to provide reasonable accommodations for Cindy Sykes (“Sykes”) and terminated her because of her disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (“ADA”). (Document No. 1, p. 1). Following multiple extensions of time and a stay due to a Government shutdown, “Defendant’s Answer And Affirmative Defenses” (Document No. 14) was filed on February 25, 2019.

         A “Pretrial Order And Case Management Plan” (Document No. 16) issued on March 22, 2019. The “…Case Management Plan” includes the following deadlines: discovery completion – December 20, 2019; Mediation – September 9, 2019; dispositive motions – January 17, 2020; and trial May 4, 2020. (Document No. 16). This case was again stayed while the parties pursued settlement between June 6, 2019 and August 8, 2019. (Document Nos. 21 and 23). On August 20, 2019, the case deadlines were revised as follows: discovery completion – February 20, 2019; dispositive motions – March 20, 2020; and trial September 21, 2020. (Document No. 26).

         Plaintiff’s “Motion To Compel Discovery Responses And Entry Upon Land And For Costs” (Document No. 28) was filed on September 3, 2019. Defendant’s “Memorandum In Opposition To Motion To Compel…” (Document No. 30) was filed September 17, 2019; and Plaintiff’s “Reply Memorandum In Support Of Motion To Compel…” (Document No. 31) was filed September 24, 2019.

         The pending motion is now ripe for review and disposition.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:

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 rules of discovery are to be accorded broad and liberal construction. See Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 177 (1979); and Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507

         (1947). However, a court may “issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1).

         Whether to grant or deny a motion to compel is generally left within a district court’s broad discretion. See, Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Inc. v. Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995) (denial of motions to compel reviewed on appeal for abuse of discretion); Erdmann v. Preferred Research Inc., 852 F.2d 788, 792 (4th Cir. 1988) (noting District Court’s substantial discretion in resolving motions to compel); and LaRouche v. National Broadcasting Co., 780 F.2d 1134, 1139 (4th Cir. 1986) (same).

         If the motion is granted--or if the disclosure or requested discovery is provided after the motion was filed--the court must, after giving an opportunity to be heard, require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion, the party or attorney advising that conduct, or both to pay the movant’s reasonable expenses incurred in ...


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