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Bryant v. Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, PA

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

October 22, 2019

MELVIN G. BRYANT, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARLOTTE EYE EAR NOSE & THROAT ASSOCIATES, PA, Defendant.

          ORDER

          David C. Keesler United States Magistrate Judge.

         THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on “Defendant's Motion To Compel Discovery Responses” (Document No. 23) filed September 30, 2019. The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and this motion is now ripe for disposition. Having carefully considered the motion, the record, and applicable authority, the undersigned will grant the motion.

         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 making the motion, including attorney's fees.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(A) (emphasis added).

         DISCUSSION

         By the pending motion, Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Associates, P.A. (“Defendant” or “CEENTA”) contends that Melvin G. Bryant, appearing pro se (“Plaintiff” or “Bryant”), “refuses to answer basic discovery requests or to produce a single document.” (Document No. 23, p. 1). Defendant asserts that it sent Plaintiff a detailed letter requesting that he supplement his responses, but to date, Plaintiff has provided minimal supplementation. Id. Defendant notes that Plaintiff responded to its letter in part, stating that “[w]e can have a conference call with the judge and let him ultimately decide if I must answer the questions.” Id. See also (Document No. 24, p. 2; Document No. 24-4).

         In response, Plaintiff contends that he has “fully answered in good faith” “each interrogatory and request for documents received from Defendant.” (Document No. 25, p. 1). Plaintiff then asserts that Defendant's responses to his discovery requests have been late and/or deficient. (Document No. 25, pp. 1-2). Plaintiff goes on to primarily argue that Defendant's discovery requests are irrelevant or involve information that Defendant already possesses. (Document No. 25, pp. 2-11).

         Defendant's “Reply In Support…” first notes that Plaintiff's response to the pending motion includes his discovery responses, which “plainly evidence” that Plaintiff has not “fully answered in good faith.” (Document No. 26, p. 1). Defendant then notes that Plaintiff has still “refused to produce a single document.” Id. Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's discovery objections and responsive brief fail to set forth a good faith basis for his refusal to answer basic discovery requests. Id. However, Defendant notes that it will no longer pursue responses to Interrogatory No. 8 and Document Request Nos. 6 and 17, “based on information supplied by Plaintiff in his response brief, and in an effort to limit the amount of discovery requests to be considered by the Court.” (Document No. 26, p. 2, n. 1).

         The undersigned finds Defendant's motion and briefs to be thorough, persuasive, and well-supported by legal authority. As argued by Defendant, Plaintiff's response lacks a sufficient basis for refusing to more fully respond to Defendant's discovery requests. The undersigned respectfully reminds Plaintiff that information within the scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Here, the information requested by Defendant appears to the undersigned ...


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