United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
JACOB W. JOHNSTON
TRANSOCEAN OFFSHORE DEEPWATER DRILLING, INC. ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS ON MOTION
C. Wilkinson, JR. United States Magistrate Judge.
a marine personal injury case instituted by Jacob W. Johnston
("Johnston or "plaintiff") against Transocean
Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. ("Transocean")
and Spencer-Ogden, Inc. ("Spencer-Ogden").
According to his complaint, Johnston, an employee of
Spencer-Ogden, was injured while working as a borrowed
employee for Transocean aboard its vessel, the M/V DEEPWATER
THALASSA. Complaint, Record Doc. No. 1 at ¶¶ 4-6.
Plaintiff seeks relief as a seaman under the Jones Act, 46
U.S.C. § 30101 et seq., alleging negligence and
unseaworthiness, and damages, including punitive damages, and
maintenance and cure benefits under general maritime law.
Id. at 9-12.
filed a motion to compel discovery responses from defendant
Transocean. Record Doc. No. 35. Transocean filed a timely
opposition memorandum. Record Doc. No. 40. Plaintiff was
permitted to file a reply. Record Doc. Nos. 46, 47, 48.
Having considered the written submissions of the parties, the
record and the applicable law, IT IS ORDERED that the motion
is GRANTED for the following reasons.
initial matter, defendant's “General
Objections” to plaintiff's discovery requests,
Record Doc. No. 35-2 at pp. 1-3, fail to comply with the
specificity requirements of the applicable rules and only
obfuscate and confuse both plaintiff and the court concerning
what objections defendant is actually making, what
information it has actually produced and whether a complete
response has been made. The court will ignore the
“General Objections” asserted in defendant's
responses. “In every respect these objections are
text-book examples of what federal courts have routinely
deemed to be improper objections.” St. Paul
Reinsurance Co., Ltd. v. Commercial Fin. Corp., 198
F.R.D. 508, 512 (N.D. Iowa 2000) (citing Burns v. Imagine
Films Entm't, Inc., 164 F.R.D. 589, 592-93 (W.D.N.Y.
1996) (general objections not sufficiently specific to allow
court to ascertain objectionable character of discovery
request); Chubb Integrated Sys. Ltd. v. Nat'l Bank of
Wash., 103 F.R.D. 52, 58 (D.D.C. 1984) (“General
objections are not useful to the court ruling on a discovery
motion. Nor does a general objection fulfill [a party's]
burden to explain its objections.”)); accord Sream,
Inc. v. Hassan Hakim & Sarwar, Inc., 2017 WL 878704,
at *2 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 6, 2017); Fischer v. Forrest,
2017 WL 773694, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2017); see also
McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel, P.C., 894 F.2d at
1485 (The “party resisting discovery must show
specifically how . . . each interrogatory is not relevant or
how each question is overly broad, burdensome or
oppressive.”) (citation omitted); Liguria Foods,
Inc. v. Griffith Labs., Inc., 2017 WL 976626, at *9
(N.D. Iowa Mar. 13, 2017) (citing St. Paul Reinsurance
Co., 198 F.R.D. 512) (by the same judge who wrote
St. Paul Reinsurance Co.: “The key requirement
in both Rules 33 and 34 is that objections require
‘specificity'” and “there is precedent
too ample to cite, in both the Eighth Circuit and the Seventh
Circuit, . . . demonstrating the insufficiency of”
defendant's "General Objections" are overruled
and stricken. If defendant has a specific objection to a
particular request, it must state the objection “with
specificity.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(4), 34(b)(2)(B);
accord McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel, P.C. v.
Quarles, 894 F.2d 1482, 1485 (5th Cir. 1990). The court
will consider only objections included in the particular
response at issue. To the extent that defendant is ordered to
supplement its discovery responses, defendant must delete any
references to “General Objections.”
motion is granted as to Requests for Production Nos. 2, 3, 8,
9, 11, and 13. All objections are overruled. Defendant has
provided vague written responses to these requests, with
objections, that state "could not locate,
""see attached" or some similar variation.
Record Doc. No. 40-1 at pp. 4-8. Defendant's present
written responses are insufficient because they assure
neither plaintiff nor the court that complete
production has been made, or that defendant has no responsive
materials in its possession, custody or control. Defendant
must provide new written responses to these requests, as
limited herein and signed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(g),
clearly stating, without objections, either that
defendant has produced all responsive materials in
their possession, custody or control, and make actual
production, or that they have no responsive
materials in their possession, custody or control.
defendant has asserted attorney-client privilege and/or work
product objections to these requests, it has failed to
provide a privilege log, thereby waiving its objections, and
has also failed to properly substantiate these objections by
submitting evidence necessary to sustain its burden of proof
to establish these objections.
Civ. P. 26(b)(5)(A) provides:
When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable by
claiming that the information is privileged or subject to
protection as trial-preparation material, the party
must: (i) expressly make the claim; and (ii)
describe the nature of documents, communications, or tangible
things not produced or disclosed - and do so in a manner
that, without revealing information itself privileged or
protected, will enable other parties to assess the claim.
(emphasis added). The use of the word "must" in the
privilege log requirement indicates that production of a
privilege log is mandatory, not to be ignored as Transocean
party has failed to comply with the Rule 26(b)(5) requirement
to provide a privilege log, courts have found that all
assertions of privilege or other protections against the
requested discovery have been waived. E.g.,
Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. v. U.S. Dist.
Court, 408 F.3d 1142, 1149-50 (9th Cir. 2005);
Pensacola Firefighters' Relief Pension Fund v.
Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, Inc., 265
F.R.D. 589, 592-94 & n.1 (N.D. Fla. 2010); Lee v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 249 F.R.D. 662, 683 (D.
Colo. 2008); Lugosch v. Congel, 219 F.R.D. 220, 239
(N.D.N.Y. 2003); Nagele v. Elec. Data Sys. Corp.,
193 F.R.D. 94, 108 (W.D.N.Y. 2000); Bordonaro v. Union
Carbide Corp., No. 93-3355, 1995 WL 234545, at *2 (E.D.
La. Apr. 20, 1995); Burns v. Imagine Films Entm't,
Inc., 164 F.R.D. 589, 594 (W.D.N.Y. 1996); Mass.
Sch. of Law at Andover, Inc. v. Am. Bar Ass'n, 914
F.Supp. 1172, 1178 (E.D. Pa. 1996); see also Haid v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 99-4186-RDR, 2001 WL 964102,
at *2 (D. Kan. June 25, 2001) (“As plainly indicated by
Rule 26(b)(5), the question whether materials are privileged
is for the court, not the [party asserting the privilege], to
decide, and the court has a right to insist on being
presented with sufficient information to make that
addition, the party resisting discovery, Transocean in this
instance, by asserting any privilege, including work product
protection, bears a burden of proof sufficient to
substantiate its privilege claims and cannot rely merely on a
blanket assertion of privilege. United States v.
Newell, 315 F.3d 510, 525 (5th Cir. 2002); In re
Santa Fe Int'l Corp., 272 F.3d 705, 710 (5th Cir.
2001); Ingraham v. Planet Beach Franchising Corp.,
No. 07-3555, 2009 WL 1076717, at *1 (E.D. La. Apr. 17, 2009)
(citing Hodges, Grant & Kaufman v. United
States, 768 F.2d 719, 721 (5th Cir. 1985)); Kiln
Underwriting Ltd. v. Jesuit High Sch., No. 06-04350,
2008 WL 108787, at *4-5 (E.D. La. Jan. 9, 2008) (citing
Hodges, 768 F.2d at 721); United States v.
Impastato, No. 05-325, 2007 WL 2463310, at *2 (E.D. La.
Aug. 28, 2007) (citing United States v. Harrelson,
754 F.2d 1153, ...