How to Enforce Discovery

In a recent case decided in the State of Washington, the Judge correctly stated the elements of good discovery requests, the reasons for overruling objections to discovery and the reasons for sustaining objections to discovery:

In response to the interrogatories, Plaintiff raised broad objections and did not provide any of the requested information. (See id. at 38-43.) She also indicated in each response that she would later provide the requested information if it was “relevant” to responding the interrogatory. (See id. at 24-36, and 38-43.)

White v. Relay Res., No. C19-0284-JCC, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2020)

Defendant attempted to meet and confer with Plaintiff on December 23, 2019, two days after receiving Plaintiff’s responses. (See Dkt. No. 93 at 47.) Defendant expressed concern with sufficiency of Plaintiff’s responses and offered an extension for Plaintiff to supplement her responses. (Id.) Defendant also requested an in-person meeting to attempt to resolve the discovery dispute, but Plaintiff refused to meet outside the State of Virginia. (See id. at 51.) Plaintiff also refused a teleconference, stating that she did “not have any line of communication open except emails and written communication.” (See id. at 2, 54.)

White v. Relay Res., No. C19-0284-JCC, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2020)

Accordingly, Defendant proceeded to email Plaintiff with specific examples of its “serious concerns regarding the insufficiency of [her] responses.” (Id. at 55.) On December 27, 2019, Plaintiff supplemented her responses to the requests for production with three screenshots of email correspondence between Plaintiff and Defendant’s employees about benefits. (Id. at 62-64.) She also provided Defendant with a scanned page from a yearbook. (See id. at 55-64.) In response, Defendant informed Plaintiff that if she did not provide responsive documents or answers to its interrogatories by the extended deadline, it had no choice but to file a motion to compel with the Court. (See id.) Instead of further supplementing her responses, Plaintiff replied, “Ok. File Motion to Compel.” (See id. at 93.)

White v. Relay Res., No. C19-0284-JCC, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2020)

Discovery motions are strongly disfavored. “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.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). If the parties are unable to resolve their discovery issues, the requesting party may move for an order to compel. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1). Any such motion must contain 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 resolve the dispute without court action.” W.D. Wash. Local Civ. R. 37(a)(1). “A good faith effort to confer with a party or person not making a disclosure or discovery requires a face-to-face meeting or a telephone conference.” Id.

White v. Relay Res., No. C19-0284-JCC, at *3 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2020)

Here, although the parties did not meet in person or have a telephone conference, Defendant made a good faith effort to satisfy the meet-and-confer requirement before filing the instant motion to compel. Defendant made multiple attempts to resolve its discovery dispute before reaching a genuine impasse on December 30, 2019, when Plaintiff told Defendant to “File Motion to Compel.” (Id. at 65.) Consequently, Defendant has satisfied the meet-and-confer requirement.

White v. Relay Res., No. C19-0284-JCC, at *3 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2020)

“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.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), 34(a). A plaintiff is required to “produce and permit the requesting party to inspect” the designated documents as long as the request is relevant and proportional. Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(B)-(C). If a party objects to a request for production, that party “must state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of that objection.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(C). If a party objects to part of a request, it must “specify that part and permit inspection of the rest.” Id.

White v. Relay Res., No. C19-0284-JCC, at *4 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2020)

Request for Production No. 2 asks for all documents relating to Plaintiff’s employment, “including, but not limited to, Plaintiff’s employment application, job offer, job descriptions, handbooks, manuals, policies, compensation records, requests for accommodation, and other such documents.” (Dkt. No. 93 at 25.) Plaintiff objected on the grounds that the request was “unclear” and “vague.” (Id.) However, Plaintiff’s own response contradicts the assertion that the request is unclear and vague because she nevertheless provided several important dates relating to her employment history. (Id.)

White v. Relay Res., No. C19-0284-JCC, at *4 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2020)

Request for Production No. 9 asks for all of Plaintiff’s “social media communication, including wall posts, private messages and/or threads, photographs, or other native data that relates to Plaintiff’s employment with Defendant or Plaintiff’s allegations and Complaint.” Plaintiff objected to this request, stating that it was vague, unclear, and overbroad. But the request specifies designated documents and types of communications sought, and the Court finds this request sufficiently clear. Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(1)(A). Nor is Defendant’s request overly broad; the request is directly relevant to the disputed issues and proportional to the needs of the case. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b).

“Plaintiff’s perfunctory objections do not reflect a good faith effort to comply with discovery rules. Plaintiff must make reasonable efforts to provide documents responsive to Defendant’s requests for production. Failure to do comply may result in sanctions, including dismissal of the present action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(A).” White v. Relay Res., No. C19-0284-JCC, at *5 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2020)

An interrogatory may seek information about “any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b),” and “must, to the extent it is not objected to, be answered separately and fully in writing under oath.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a)-(b). “The grounds for objecting to an interrogatory must be stated with specificity.” Id. A responding party is not required to conduct extensive research to answer an interrogatory, but a reasonable effort to respond must be made. Id.; see also Thomas vCate715 F. Supp. 2d 1012, 1032 (E.D. Cal. 2010) (“Rule 33 imposes a duty on the responding party to secure all information available to it.”).

White v. Relay Res., No. C19-0284-JCC, at *5 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2020)

Plaintiff’s responses to Defendant’s interrogatories are obstructive and dilatory. Within 30 days, Plaintiff must provide  Defendant with the information requested in each interrogatory. Failing to make reasonable efforts to respond to Defendant’s interrogatories may result in sanctions under Rule 37, including dismissal of the matter.

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4 Responses

  1. Good luck with this…just saying.

  2. Because foreclosures Judges SUPPORT foreclosure mills.

    Many Judges have families who are heavily involved in banking and real estate business and of course they support their families, too

  3. Correct…I filed for Production of Documents (little things like a ‘Assignment of Mortgage’…and a ‘Notice of Default with 30 day Right to Cure’…minor details that were not attached to the Compliant or ever have been filed in ANY filing since 2008)…and gave 30 days to Respond…and the Debt Collector ‘set Trial’ within 14 days of receiving the Request…and the Judge granted Trial. I requested a Hearing…and was informed ‘No Hearings will be allowed on this Matter…Show up for Trial and the Judge will decide.’ I filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy the day before the Sham was to Happen.

  4. It has been my experience over the past ten years that state foreclosure courts have no interest in compelling banksters to comply with discovery demands. Ergo, one must use guerilla tactics against these guys.

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