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Robin v. Weeks Marine, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 3, 2017


         SECTION: “E” (1)




         Before the Court is the Motion to Compel filed by plaintiff Gary Robin (Rec. Doc. 24). The only issues remaining at this time are whether Weeks Marine is obligated to produce an unredacted copy of its insurance policy, whether Weeks Marine's response to Request for Production Number 5 is sufficient, and whether sanctions are warranted in light of the delay in production of discovery responses by Weeks Marine. For the following reasons, the Motion to Compel is GRANTED in part. Within seven days, Weeks Marine shall produce an unredacted copy of its insurance policy and within 14 days, Weeks Marine shall supplement its response to Request for Production No. 5. Sanctions are not warranted at this time.


         Mr. Robin alleges that he suffered injuries when his recreational boat struck a submerged stationary pipeline owned and/or installed by Weeks Marine. He filed this lawsuit in Louisiana state court on January 17, 2017, and contemporaneously served two sets of discovery requests. Weeks Marine removed the matter to this court on February 23, 2017. Around the same time, it appears that Weeks Marine agreed to provide responses to the discovery requests by March 20, 2017. According to Mr. Robin, Weeks Marine then insisted that it would not respond to the discovery requests until after the case management conference under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f). Nonetheless, Weeks Marine responded to Mr. Robin's first discovery requests on April 3, 2017. This production included a copy of insurance policies, however, these policies contained redactions. The case management conference was held on May 19, 2017.

         Mr. Robin filed the present motion to compel on July 3, 2017, because Weeks Marine had still not provided responses to his second set of discovery requests and because Weeks Marine refused to provide unredacted copies of its insurance policies. Weeks Marine filed its opposition memorandum on July 25, 2017, and represented that it had provided responses to Mr. Robin's second set of discovery requests and had not received any complaint from Mr. Robin regarding their sufficiency. However, Weeks Marine still had not produced unredacted copies of the insurance policies and insists that it is not obligated to do so. Additionally, Weeks Marine insists that sanctions are not appropriate here because its refusal to disclose its insurance policy limits is justified and its delay in answering to Mr. Robin's discovery requests has not impeded the progress of the case.

         Pursuant to the Scheduling Order issued May 24, 2017, trial in this matter is scheduled for March 25, 2018, and the parties have until January 16, 2018, to complete discovery.

         Law and Analysis

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that “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.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 26(b)(1). In determining proportionality, the parties (and the Court if called to weigh in) should consider:

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.

Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 26(b)(1). “Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Id.

         In addition to their obligation to respond to discovery requests, the parties must make initial disclosures pursuant to Rule 26. This obligation includes the requirement that each party must provide “for inspection and copying . . . any insurance agreement under which an insurance business may be liable to satisfy all or part of a possible judgment in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 26(a)(1)(iv).

         A party may move for an order compelling initial disclosures, responses to requests for production, and responses to interrogatories pursuant to Rule 37. If the motion is granted, the Court must “after giving an opportunity to be heard, require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion, the party or attorney advising that conduct, or both to pay the movant's reasonable expenses incurred in making the motion, including attorney's fees.” Id. R. 37(a)(5)(A). However, fees are not to be awarded where: ” (i) the movant filed the motion before attempting in good faith to obtain the disclosure or discovery without court ...

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