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Stocks v. Performance Contractors, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

June 5, 2015



RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

Before the court is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery Responses filed on April 28, 2015. (R. Doc. 14). The motion is opposed. (R. Doc. 15). For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. Background

This is an employment discrimination and retaliation action brought by Claxton Stocks ("Plaintiff") against his employer Performance Contractors, Inc. ("Defendant" or "PCI"). (R. Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleges that after working for eight months at PCI, his co-worker Brent Breaux called him a racial epithet. Plaintiff alleges that he reported the incident and Breaux was fired. Plaintiff further alleges that he was assigned to work for Edward Dupuis, a PCI supervisor who Plaintiff alleges is the "uncle" of Breaux. Plaintiff claims that after being assigned to work for Dupuis he was fired within two weeks in retaliation for reporting Breaux. Plaintiff filed a discrimination and retaliation charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (R. Doc. 1-1 at 1). Plaintiff alleges that ten months after he was fired, he reapplied to work at PCI, was hired as a welder, assigned against to work for Mr. Dupuis, and was fired the next day. Plaintiff filed a second retaliation charge with the EEOC. (R. Doc. 1-1 at 2).

Plaintiff received a right to sue letter from the EEOC dated August 4, 2014. (R. Doc. 1-1 at 3). On October 30, 2014, he filed the instant lawsuit.

Interrogatory No. 11 of Plaintiff's first set of discovery requests asks the following: "What familial relationship is PCI employee during 2008 to 2010, Edward Dupuis, to fellow PCI employee during some of that time, Brent Breaux." (R. Doc. 15 at 1). PCI responded "None." (R. Doc. 15 at 1). This interrogatory is not at issue.

On March 24, 2015, Plaintiff propounded his second set of discovery, which included the interrogatories and requests for production at issue. These discovery requests seek information regarding the familial relationship between Edward Dupuis and Brent Breaux, other supervisors to whom Dupuis may be related, and Breaux's personnel file and disciplinary requests. On April 23, 2015, PCI timely responded that it would not provide the requested information and raised several objections.

Plaintiff's counsel certifies that he has conferred in good faith with opposing counsel to resolve this discovery dispute before filing the instant motion. (R. Doc. 14 at 3-4). According to Defendant, this conference involved a brief e-mail exchange in which Plaintiff's counsel requested Defendant to provide information regarding the alleged familial relationship as sought in his second set of interrogatories, and defense counsel's response that PCI did not have any information to provide. (R. Doc. 15-2)

II. Law and Analysis

A. Legal Standards

Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure provides that "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." To be relevant, "information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The scope of discovery is not without limits, however, and the court may protect a party from responding to discovery when: (i) it is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or obtainable from some other less-burdensome source; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had the opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or (iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2).

Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the service of written interrogatories. A party seeking discovery under Rule 33 may serve interrogatories on any other party and the interrogatory "may relate to any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(2). "If the answer to an interrogatory may be determined by examining... a party's business records (including electronically stored information), and if the burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer will be substantially the same for either party, the responding party may answer by: (1) specifying the records that must be reviewed, in sufficient detail to enable the interrogating party to locate and identify them as readily as the responding party could; and (2) giving the interrogating party a reasonable opportunity to examine and audit the records and to make copies, compilations, abstracts, or summaries." Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(d).

Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the discovery of documents and tangible items. A party seeking discovery must serve a request for production on the party believed to be in possession, custody, or control of the documents or other evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a). The request is to be in writing and must set forth, among other things, the desired items with "reasonable particularity." Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(1)(A).

Rules 33 and 34 provide a party with 30 days after service of the discovery to respond or object. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(2) and 34(b)(2)(A). If a party fails to respond fully to discovery requests made pursuant as to Rules 33 and 34 in the time allowed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the party seeking discovery may move to compel disclosure and for appropriate sanctions under Rule 37. An "evasive or incomplete ...

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