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Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Taylor Truck Line, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

March 8, 2017

UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD CO.
v.
TAYLOR TRUCK LINE, INC., ET AL. R & L BUILDERS SUPPLY, INC., ET AL.
v.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD CO., ET AL.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          KAREN L. HAYES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the undersigned Magistrate Judge, on reference from the District Court, are two discovery-related motions [doc. #s 236 & 237], as twice supplemented [doc. #s 274 & 281], and associated requests for sanctions, filed by defendants, Taylor Truck Line Inc., Taylor Logistics Inc, College City Leasing, LLC, Daniel Shackleford, and Taylor Consolidated Inc. (collectively, “Taylor”). The motions, as supplemented, are opposed. For reasons explained below, the motions are DENIED.[1]

         Background[2]

         On October 10, 2016, Taylor filed the instant motions to compel Union Pacific Railroad Company (“UPRC”): 1) to respond to outstanding discovery responses, and 2) to produce documents in response to two subpoenas and to schedule the deposition of Doug Woods. Specifically, the former motion sought an order compelling UPRC to provide responses to Taylor's Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sets of Interrogatories, plus its Second and Third Sets of Request for production. The latter motion sought an order compelling UPRC to respond to Taylor's subpoenas served on July 22 and August 25, 2016, and to compel the deposition of UPRC's 30(b)(6) witness, Doug Woods.

         Following the parties' ongoing ameliorative efforts, on December 30, 2016, Taylor supplemented its motions to narrow the scope of the disputed discovery. On February 8, 2017, Taylor again supplemented its motions to winnow down the discovery impasse to one interrogatory, and two items of documents that were listed in the records subpoenas.

         On February 9, 2017, the court ordered UPRC to file a response to the motions by February 21, 2017. (Feb. 9, 2017, Order [doc. # 282]). On February 21, 2017, UPRC filed its “supplemental”[3] opposition to Taylor's motions to compel. [doc. # 285]. Taylor did not file a reply. The matter is ripe.

         Analysis

         I. Motion to Compel Discovery Responses [doc. # 236]

         a) Law

         Rule 33 provides that a party may serve an interrogatory on another party that relates to any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b). Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(2). The interrogatories must be answered by the party to whom they are directed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(1). A party seeking discovery may move for an order compelling production against another party when the latter has failed to answer an interrogatory. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). An evasive or incomplete response is treated as a failure to respond. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4).

         Under Rule 26(b),

[u]nless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: 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, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).

         The courts understand the rule to provide for broad and liberal discovery. See Schlagenhauf v. Holder, 379 U.S. 104, 114-5 (1964); Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507, 67 S.Ct. 385 (1947). Nonetheless, the scope of discovery is limited by relevance, albeit “relevance” is ...


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