United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
MELVIN G. BRYANT, Plaintiff,
CHARLOTTE EYE EAR NOSE & THROAT ASSOCIATES, PA, Defendant.
C. Keesler United States Magistrate Judge.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
“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).
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