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Fields v. Stanley Access Technologies, LLC

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

February 14, 2019

CHRISTOPHER FIELDS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STANLEY ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, and KROGER LIMITED PARTNERSHIP I, DEFENDANTS.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          EDWARD B. ATKINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Christopher Fields' Motion to Compel Discovery Responses from Defendant Kroger Limited Partnership I. [R. 50 (Motion to Compel); R. 55 (Response); R. 56 (Reply)]. All discovery disputes have been referred to the undersigned for a decision pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). [R. 29]. Accordingly, having considered the matter fully, and being otherwise sufficiently advised, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel [R. 50] is DENIED.

         I.

         The discovery at issue in this motion concerns Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents served on May 15, 2018 [R. 23 (Notice of Service); R. 55-1 (Discovery Requests)].[1] Defendant's responses were then provided to Plaintiff on June 12, 2018 [R. 24 (Notice of Service); R. 55-2 (Discovery Responses)].

         Prior to filing the motion, on December 17, 2018, Plaintiff sought leave for an extension of sixty (60) days for which to file expert reports. [R. 43]. Because this motion was filed on the date Plaintiff's reports were due, and since no good cause was shown to justify an extension that would impact pending deadlines, the motion was denied.

         According to the Scheduling Order entered April 3, 2018, the Court set October 15, 2018, as the deadline for completing fact discovery. [R. 17, ¶ (f)]. Yet, on January 15, 2019- roughly two weeks after the Court denied Plaintiff's motion for an extension of time- Plaintiff now argues that Defendant failed to adequately respond to his May 15, 2018 discovery requests. [R. 50]. Primarily, Plaintiff faults the Defendant on three grounds, namely for providing: (1) objections without answers [Id. at 2]; (2) answers requiring supplementation [Id. at 17]; and (3) insufficient answers [Id. at 21].

         On January 16, 2019, the Court convened a telephone conference to discuss the possibility of setting this matter for a settlement conference. [R. 49 (Order); R. 52 (Minute Entry Order)]. During the call, the undersigned briefly addressed this pending motion and directed the parties to file briefs for the Court to review. This matter is ready for ruling, following Plaintiff's Reply [R. 56] to Defendant's Response to the motion to compel [R. 55].

         II.

         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 general, a district court does not abuse its discretion by denying an untimely motion to compel that violated unambiguous discovery deadlines.” (citing cases)). In fact, motions to compel filed after the discovery deadline will generally be deemed untimely. See, e.g., Herdguard, LLC v. NXT Generation Pet, Inc., WL 5023327 2018, at *2 (E.D. Ky. Oct. 16, 2018); Morris v. Zurich American Ins. Co., 2018 WL 1875295, at *2-3 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 19, 2018); Appalachian Reg'l Healthcare v. U.S. Nursing Corp., 2017 WL 9690401, at *3-6 (E.D. Ky. Sept. 1, 2017); Thomas v. Louisville/Jefferson Cty. Metro Gov't, 2016 WL 4385857, at *1 (W.D. Ky. Aug. 15, 2016); Mitchell v. Mike, 2015 WL 8770073, at *2-3 (E.D. Ky. Dec. 14, 2015).

         III.

         A. Failure to Comply with Rules

         The Defendant points out that, like the Plaintiff in Mitchell, [2] “this motion fails to comply with the requirements of Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 37.1.” Mitchell, 2015 WL 8770073, at *2; see R. ...


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