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Million v. Exxon Mobil Corp.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

March 13, 2018




         Before the Court is defendant Protherm Services Group, LLC's (“Protherm”) Motion to Compel Discovery Responses from Plaintiff (R. Doc. 46) filed on February 18, 2018. The motion is opposed. (R. Doc. 49).

         I. Background

         On October 18, 2017, Protherm propounded Interrogatories and Requests for Production on plaintiff James Million. (R. Doc. 46-4).

         On November 21, 2017, having not received timely responses to the foregoing written discovery, defense counsel scheduled a telephone discovery conference. (R. Doc. 46-5). That same day, Plaintiffs' counsel informed defense counsel that responses would be provided by December 20, 2017, and a Social Security Earnings printout would be provided in the interim. (R. Doc. 46-6). Plaintiffs' counsel provided the Social Security records later that day. (R. Doc. 49-2).

         On December 14, 2017, Plaintiffs' counsel requested an additional extension to January 22, 2018 in light of Mr. Million's hospitalization. (R. Doc. 46-7 at 2). Defense counsel agreed to an extension to January 8, 2018. (R. Doc. 46-7 at 1).

         On February 18, 2018, having received no responses to the discovery requests, Protherm filed the instant motion, seeking an order requiring responses to be provided within 10 days of the order and an award of reasonable expenses incurred in bringing the motion. (R. Doc. 46).

         In opposition, Mr. Million represents that he has been unable to provide responses to the written discovery requests in light of his multiple hospitalizations, deteriorating health, and treatment for cancer. (R. Doc. 49-1 at 1-2). Mr. Million further argues that Protherm should not be awarded expenses under the circumstances. (R. Doc. 49-1 at 2-3). Referencing Louisiana law, Mr. Million further argues that certain discovery requests (namely Interrogatory Nos. 5, 8, and 7 and Request for Production No. 10) are objectionable. (R. Doc. 49-1 at 4-5). Finally, Mr. Million argues that he should be awarded fees incurred in defending the instant motion. (R. Doc. 49-1 at 5).

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Legal Standards

         “Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged 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 court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery if it determines that: “(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or (iii) the proposed discovery is outside the scope permitted by Rule 26(b)(1).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C).

         “The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). Rule 26(c)'s “good cause” requirement indicates that the party seeking a protective order has the burden “to show the necessity of its issuance, which contemplates a particular and specific demonstration of fact as distinguished from stereotyped and conclusory statements.” In re Terra Int'l, Inc., 134 F.3d 302, 306 (5th Cir. 1998) (quoting United States v. Garrett, 571 F.2d 1323, 1326 n.3 (5th Cir. 1978)).

         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 disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer or respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4).

         B. ...

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