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Herdguard, LLC v. NXT Generation Pet, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

October 16, 2018

HERDGUARD, LLC PLAINTIFF,
v.
NXT GENERATION PET, INC., et al., DEFENDANTS.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Edward B. Atkins United States Magistrate Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff Herdguard, LLC's Motion to Compel Defendant NXT Generation, Pet, Inc. (“NXT”) to respond to its Request for Production of Documents filed on March 8, 2018. [R. 34; R. 58-3]. The Court held a telephone conference call on September 8, 2018 during which Plaintiff indicated this present discovery dispute. [R. 57]. Thereafter, the undersigned directed the parties to file briefings for the Court's review. This matter is ready for ruling, following Plaintiff's Reply, [R. 61], to Defendant's Response and Objection to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel, [R. 59].

         All discovery disputes have been referred to the undersigned for decision pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). [R. 28]. Accordingly, having considered the matter fully, and being otherwise sufficiently advised, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel [R. 58] be DENIED.

         FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This action arises from Plaintiff's claims of breach of contract, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and tortious interference with business relationships against NXT and Vermont Soap Corp. (“Vermont Soap”). [R. 1-1 at 3]. Plaintiff alleges that NXT and Vermont Soap violated their non-disclosure agreements with Plaintiff, by going into business with one another, thereby revealing confidential and proprietary information about Plaintiff's products. [R. 1-1 at 7 ¶ ¶ 45, 51; Id. at 8 ¶ 61; Id. at 9 ¶ ¶ 65, 69; Id. at 10 ¶ 73].

         The discovery at issue in this motion concerns Plaintiff's First Set of Request for Production of Documents which were served to NXT on March 8, 2018 [R. 34; R. 58-3 at 6 ¶ 19]. In reply, NXT raised certain objections contained within the discovery requests on the basis that they were “oppressive, unreasonable, and exceed[ed] the scope of discovery permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” [R. 59-5 at 1 ¶ ¶ 1-2]. Nonetheless, while NXT responded to each discovery request, NXT expressly reserved the right to supplement the responses.

         On June 28, 2018, in order to allow for the scheduling of depositions, the parties filed a Joint Motion to Extend the Fact Discovery Deadline from June 29, 2018 to July 31, 2018. [R. 42]. This motion was granted. [R. 51]. On July 26, 2018 NXT provided Supplemental Responses to Plaintiff's discovery request, which were designated as confidential and subject to agreed-upon terms of a protective order. [R. 52; R. 55; R. 59 at 6]. The parties' Motion for Protective Order, filed on August 10, 2018, was for the purpose of “expedit[ing] the flow of discovery, facilitat[ing] the prompt resolution of disputes over confidentiality, adequately protect[ing] material entitled to be kept confidential, and to insure [sic] that protection is afforded only to materials so entitled.” [R. 55].

         On September 18, 2018, during a telephonic conference, the undersigned became aware of the present discovery dispute between the parties. [R. 57]. The next day, Plaintiff filed this underlying Motion to Compel, alleging that NXT failed to comply with Request #19 in its Request for Production of Documents, which had been served to them on March 8, 2018. [R. 58]. On September 24, 2018, NXT filed a Response and Objection to Plaintiff's Motion. [R. 59]. In sum, Defendant argues that: (1) Plaintiff's Request seeks irrelevant information, which is not proportional to the needs of this case, and (2) Plaintiff's Motion should be denied on the basis that it was filed nearly two months after the extended fact discovery deadline, and thus, is untimely. [Id. at 7-10]. In response, on September 28, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Reply in Support of this Motion to Compel. [R. 61]. Plaintiff's main argument is that Request #19 is relevant because it will establish a measure of damages to which Plaintiff is entitled to pursuant to the alleged breach of the parties' 2015 Non-Disclosure Agreement. [R. 58; R. 61].

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) provides that-unless otherwise limited-“[p]arties 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.” This language is broadly construed to include “any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matters that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case.” Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978). The scope of discovery, however, is not without limitation. It is “well established that the scope of discovery is within the sound discretion of the trial court.” Chrysler Corp. v. Fedders Corp., 643 F.2d 1229, 1240 (6th Cir. 1981) (citing H. K. Porter Co., Inc. v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., 536 F.2d 1115 (6th Cir. 1976)). As such, “[a] ruling by the trial court limiting or denying discovery will not be cause for reversal unless an abuse of discretion is shown.” Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b); H. L. Moore Drug Exch., Inc. v. Smith, Kline and French Lab., 384 F.2d 97 (2d Cir. 1967)).

         Where a party refuses to provide information requested by any other party, which is thought by the requesting party to be within the scope of Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), the requesting party may move the court in which the action is pending to compel disclosure of the requested information. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). Such a motion to compel generally may be filed where a party has failed to provide mandatory disclosure; failed to answer or admit an interrogatory or request for admission; or failed to produce discoverable information, materials, or documents- electronic or otherwise. See generally Fed. R. Civ. P. 37. A failure to disclose, answer or admit, or produce includes disclosures, answers or admissions, or productions that are “evasive or incomplete.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). Prior to so moving, however, a party seeking to compel disclosure or discovery must in good faith confer or attempt to confer with the opposing party “failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1).

         Should the court determine the matters sought to be compelled fall within the scope of Fed.R.Civ.P. 26, the motion shall be granted. Nonetheless, district courts may deny as untimely motions to compel filed after the discovery deadline has passed. Pittman v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 901 F.3d 619, 642-43 (6th Cir. 2018); see also Craig-Wood v. Time Warner N.Y. Cable LLC, 549 Fed.Appx. 505, 508 (6th Cir. 2014). In fact, motions to compel filed after the discovery deadline will generally be deemed untimely. See, e.g., Appalachian Reg'l Healthcare v. U.S. Nursing Corp., 2017 WL 9690401, at *3-6 (E.D. Ky. 2017); Thomas v. Louisville/Jefferson Cty. Metro Gov't, 2016 WL 4385857, at *1 (W.D. Ky. 2016); Mitchell v. Mike, 2015 WL 8770073, at *2-3 (E.D. Ky. 2015).

         TIMELINESS OF ...


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