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Fontenot v. Safety Council of Southwest Louisiana

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

August 9, 2017

JONI FONTENOT
v.
SAFETY COUNCIL OF SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA

          JUDGE, BROWN

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          KATHLEEN KAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is a Motion to Compel [doc. 54] filed by plaintiff Joni Fontenot (“Fontenot”) which is opposed by defendant Safety Council of Southwest Louisiana (“Safety Council”)[doc. 68]. For the following reasons, Fontenot's Motion to Compel is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. Background

         Fontenot filed a Complaint against her former employer Safety Council alleging violation of the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) and retaliation for complaining about the discrimination. Doc. 1.

         On July 7, 2017 Fontenot filed the motion before the court seeking to compel answers to interrogatories and requests for production of documents. We will address each of these discovery requests in turn.

         II. Law and Analysis

         The court begins its analysis with the principle that the discovery rules are accorded a broad and liberal treatment to affect their purpose of adequately informing litigants in civil trials. Hebert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 177 (1979). Nevertheless, discovery does have boundaries, Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947); and it is well established that the scope of discovery is within the sound discretion of the trial court. Burns v Thiokol Chemical Corp., 483 F.2d 300, 304-05 (5th Cir.1973).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) defines the scope of discovery. It states, in part:

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 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). With these precepts in mind we now turn to the specific discovery requests.

         Interrogatory No. 2: Please describe every document you believe relates to the facts alleged in this matter.

         Safety Council objects to this interrogatory as overbroad as it has no date or content parameters and is not proportional to the needs of the case. Subject to the objection, it refers Fontenot to all documents produced in response to the Requests for Production.

         We agree that this interrogatory is overbroad in that it has no time or scope limitation and will deny plaintiff's motion to compel an answer to this Interrogatory No. 2.

         Request for Production No. 7: Other than bank statements and accompanying checks, if any, produce all documents respecting Iberia Bank since January 1, 2010.

         Safety Council objects to this interrogatory as overbroad and irrelevant. Fontenot, in her reply memorandum, argues that this request seeks information relative to her retaliation allegations. She asserts that after she became concerned about her salary, she began hearing complaints about banking issues. She contends ...


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