United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division
E. Gates, United States Magistrate Judge
case comes before the court on three motions: (1) a motion to
compel (DE. 35) by defendants Westin St. John Hotel Co.
("Westin") and Vistana Signature Experiences
("Vistana") (collectively "defendants");
(2) a motion for a protective order (D.E. 40) by plaintiffs
Guy Ferrante and Deborah Ferrante (collectively
"plaintiffs"); and (3) a motion by defendants to
seal (D.E. 46). For the reasons set forth below,
defendants' motion to compel will be allowed and
plaintiffs' motion for protective order and
defendants' motion to seal will be denied.
Plaintiffs' Allegations and Claims
proceeding pro se, allege in their amended complaint as
purchased three timeshares at the Westin, located on St. John
in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were managed by Vistana.
Am. Coinpl. (D.E. 19) ¶¶ 6-8. Defendants attempted
to require them to pay annually for three sets of maintenance
fees and points assessments for the timeshares although they
never agreed to pay these fees and assessments. Id.
¶¶ 10, 15. As a result of this dispate, defendants
formally denied plaintiffs access to all three timeshares
notwithstanding the fact that only two carried loans on them.
Id. ¶¶ 18, 19. Defendants proposed a
settlement to plaintiffs which would have required them to
forfeit their accumulated equity in two of their time shares
and plaintiffs rejected it. Id. ¶¶ 20, 23.
Without notice to plaintiffs, defendants canceled the
outstanding purchase loans and foreclosed on two of the
timeshares in violation of Florida state law. Id.
¶¶ 24, 25, 38.
relief, plaintiffs seek damages for the fair market value of
the two timeshares on which defendants foreclosed.
Id. at 5. They also seek damages for the fair market
value of their interest in the third timeshare on the grounds
that defendants have prevented them from using it.
Id. In addition, plaintiffs seek punitive damages,
and all costs and fees associated with the litigation.
Id. Defendants deny the material allegations in
plaintiffs' amended complaint. See Ans. (D.E.
February 2019 defendants served on plaintiffs their first set
of interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and
requests for admission. Defs.' Disc. Reqs. (D.E. 36-2).
On 18 March 2019, Guy Ferrante served responses to the
interrogatories and requests for admission, but explained in
a cover letter that he was not providing written responses to
the 13 requests for production of documents or producing any
documents in response to them. Guy Ferrante's Disc.
Resps. (D.E. 36-3); Guy Ferrante's Ltr. (D.E. 39-3).
May 2019, in lieu of serving written discovery responses,
Deborah Ferrante served on defendants a statement denying
possession of any relevant information sought in
defendants' discovery requests. Deborah Ferrante's
Stmt. (D.E. 45-3). In her statement, she asserts:
My name appears as a Plaintiff in this matter because the
properties involved are/were jointly titled in my name. I
participated in the decisions to purchase the 3 properties
that we once owned. I thoroughly enjoyed them while we owned
But I played absolutely no role in any of the events leading
up to, and culminating in, this lawsuit. I have no answers
to-provide. I had no communications with the defendants. I
exchanged no correspondence with defendants. I have no
documents to disclose. I have no information to convey. There
is nothing for mc to admit. I will sit through a deposition
if required, but cannot imagine anything productive coming of
I do not deny knowing of the problems that my husband (Guy
Ferrante) encountered when trying to get answers about the
annual charges from the defendants. But I am not an attorney
and may not even fully understand the bases of his position.
To the extent that I might remember any details from years
ago, though, it would amount to no more than a hazy
repetition of what he told me then, and is telling you now.
Please consider this my formal response to DEFENDANTS'
FIRST SET OF INTERROGATORIES, REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION OF
DOCUMENTS, AND REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS TO PLAINTIFFS.
I certify under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true
and correct. 28 U.S.C. § 1746.
Executed on May 4, ...