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Pitre v. Epps

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 22, 2018

ALGERNON PITRE
v.
MICHAEL ELLIOT EPPS AND THOMAS COBB

         SECTION: “J” (1)

          CARL J. BARBIER, JUDGE

          ORDER AND REASONS

          Janis van Meerveld United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is the Motion to Compel More Complete Responses to Discovery (Rec. Doc. 6) filed by defendant Michael Elliot Epps. For the following reasons, the Motion to Compel More Complete Responses to Discovery (Rec. Doc. 6) is granted in part and denied in part. Oral argument on the Motion to Compel is cancelled. The Court notes that Epps' Motion to Compel Plaintiff's Deposition (Rec. Doc. 7) remains pending and shall proceed with oral argument on June 27, 2018, unless the parties notify the Court that they have resolved the matter between themselves.

         Background

         Plaintiff Algernon Pitre is an attorney in Washington DC. On February 18, 2017, Pitre was in the Harrah's Casino in New Orleans, Louisiana. He alleges that he saw celebrity comedian Michael Elliot Epps in the casino and approached him. Pitre says that when he attempted to speak to Epps, Epps began punching him, and then Epps' body guard Thomas Cobb began punching him. According to Pitre, Epps and Cobbs were subsequently arrested and Epps pleaded no contest to battery. Pitre insists he did nothing to provoke Epps and Cobb. Epps says that Pitre physically accosted him by making unwanted physical contact when he touched Epp's arm and came so near their torsos touched.

         On February 14, 2018, Pitre filed his Complaint against Epps and Cobb asserting claims for negligence, negligent supervision, vicarious liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery, and seeking damages. Pitre claims he has suffered severe eye damage, lost wages, lost earning capacity, lost employment benefits, lost enjoyment of life, physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering, and humiliation. Epps was served with the Complaint and has filed an Answer and Counterclaim against Pitre arguing that he is immune from suit under Louisiana's self-defense statute, Louisiana Revised Statute § 14:19, and seeking to recover his attorney's fees and costs incurred in defending against Pitre's lawsuit. It appears that defendant Cobb has not yet been served. The District Court has set this matter on its July 11, 2018, call docket.

         Although no scheduling conference has been set and it is unclear whether the parties have engaged in an initial discovery conference pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f), Epps has filed two motions to compel discovery.[1] In the present Motion, Epps seeks more complete responses to the Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and Requests for Admission that he served on April 3, 2018. Epps argues that Pitre's responses to certain interrogatories are insufficient, that he has failed to respond to the document request, and that none of his discovery responses were verified. Pitre responds that he is in the process of providing responses to Epps's Requests for Production of Documents. He argues that he stands on the objections to interrogatories that he has already served. He says he will verify all of the responses to the discovery requests.

         Law and Analysis

         1. Scope of Discovery

         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). Of note, with the 2015 amendment to Rule 26, it is now clear that “[i]nformation within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Id. In assessing proportionality of discovery, the following should be considered: “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.” Id. The advisory committee comments to the 2015 amendment to Rule 26 make clear that the parties and the court have a collective responsibility to ensure that discovery is proportional. The party claiming it would suffer an undue burden or expense is typically in the best position to explain why, while the party claiming the information sought is important to resolve the issues in the case should be able “to explain the ways in which the underlying information bears on the issues as that party understands them.” Id. advisory committee comments to 2015 amendment. “The court's responsibility, using all the information provided by the parties, is to consider these and all the other factors in reaching a case-specific determination of the appropriate scope of discovery.” Id.

         A party objecting to an interrogatory must state the grounds for objection “with specificity.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 33(b)(1)(3).

         2. Requests for Production of Documents

         Pitre reports that he is in the process of providing responses to the Requests for Production of Documents. To the extent he has not already done ...


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