United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, Jr., Magistrate Judge.
Before the Court is "Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Discovery Requests and for Expenses for Failure to Respond to Same." (R. Doc. 21) ("Motion to Compel"). Plaintiff also filed a Supplemental Memorandum in Support. (R. Doc. 22). The Motion to Compel is opposed. (R. Doc. 23). For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's Motion to Compel is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
According to the Complaint, Plaintiff Jarian Madison, an African-American adult male, was employed by Defendant PALA Interstate, LLC ("PALA"), at PALA's facility in Port Allen, Louisiana. (R. Doc. 1, "Complaint"). Plaintiff began work on May 29, 2013 in shipping and receiving. During the course of his employment, Plaintiff alleges that he overheard his supervisor, Defendant Randel Ducote, repeatedly using the word "nigger" in a conversation. (Complaint, ¶¶ 15, 63). On other occasions, Plaintiff alleges that certain derogatory language was directed at him. His employment lasted approximately six days, when he was fired by PALA on June 6, 2012 "for alleged failure to follow directions, complete tasks or understand the system." (Complaint, ¶19). Following his termination, Plaintiff alleges that he was replaced by a Caucasian male and that Plaintiff was offered a laborer position at another facility, which was a demotion with less pay.
The Complaint alleges claims of (1) race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. 1981 ("§ 1981"), and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law, La. R.S. § 23:301, et seq. ("LEDL"), (2) hostile work environment harassment based on race under Title VII, § 1981, and the LEDL, (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") under Louisiana law, and (4) defamation under Louisiana law. (Complaint, ¶¶ 24-74). Pursuant to a motion for partial dismissal, which was unopposed, the Court dismissed the hostile work environment harassment, IIED, and defamation claims. (R. Doc. 19).
A Scheduling Order was entered on March 4, 2014. (R. Doc. 11). The deadlines were based on those proposed by the parties in the Status Report. Based on the deadlines in the Scheduling Order, the deadline for filing all discovery motions and completing all discovery except experts was September 15, 2014. On September 15, 2014, a Joint Motion to extend the discovery deadline was filed wherein the parties requested an extension until October 17, 2014 to complete discovery based on scheduling issues regarding certain depositions. The court granted that request but only for the purpose of conducting the depositions referenced in the motion and filing discovery related motions relating to those depositions. "All other discovery and discovery related motions remain governed by the court's prior deadline of September 15, 2014." (R. Doc. 18).
On October 17, 2014, the Motion to Compel was filed. This was the last day to complete the referenced depositions and the last day to file any discovery related motions related to those depositions. The Motion seeks an order compelling Defendants to supplement their discovery responses and provide another corporate representative to appear at a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition to "fully answer questions regarding its human resources policies and procedures." (R. Doc. 21-1).
The Motion to Compel alleges that plaintiff received insufficient responses in relation to Interrogatory Nos. 2, 3, 6, 9, 11, 14 and Request for Production of Documents Nos. 7, 11, 14, 16. Plaintiff further alleges in the Motion to Compel that the 30(b)(6) representative was inadequate due to his inability to answer questions regarding the topics noticed by the plaintiff.
II. LAW AND ANALYSIS
A. The Meet and Confer Requirement
Rule 37(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that any motion to compel "must include 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 obtain it without court action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1).
Plaintiff acknowledges that the parties have not conferred in good faith in an effort to obtain the discovery at issue without court intervention. Specifically, plaintiff asserts that he attempted to confer prior to the Court's deadline to file discovery related motions by sending correspondence to defense counsel on October 13, 2014 and October 14, 2014 "detailing their position and requesting a Rule 37 conference this week to discuss same." (R. Doc. 21-2 at 2).
Both letters are attached to the Motion to Compel. (R. Docs. 21-11 and 21-12). The letter on October 13, 2014 asserts that Barry Abshire, the 30(b)(6) deponent, "was insufficient to answer the questions outlined in our deposition notice" and requests that PALA produce Rebecca Jones for a deposition immediately. The letter also makes a general assertion that "statements and investigative materials" have been withheld that "were properly requested" but fails to identify any particular discovery request to which a response was insufficient. (R. Doc. 21-11).
The October 14, 2014 letter identifies specific discovery requests to which plaintiff maintains that the responses were insufficient. Specifically, plaintiff asserts that Interrogatory Nos. 2, 8, 13, 15, 16, and 18 as well as Request for Production of Documents 4, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14 were insufficient. (R. Doc. 21-12). Both letters request a Rule 37 Telephone Conference. The ...