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Hale v. Vietti

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 12, 2018

MELVIN HALE, PH.D., Plaintiff,
v.
JACKIE VIETTI, PH.D., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF NON-PARTY LITIGATION FILES

          KENNETH G. GALE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Defendant Jackie Vietti, Ph.D. (hereby referred to as “Defendant”) has filed a motion to compel Plaintiff to respond, or to respond more fully, to Defendant’s Requests for Production of Documents under Fed.R.Civ.P. 34 and Interrogatories under Fed.R.Civ.P. 33. (Doc. 59.) Plaintiff has filed responses to these requests, including objections, so the Court’s task is to consider the objections and evaluate the adequacy of the responses. Having reviewed the parties’ submissions, including the discovery requests and responses at issue, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant’s motion (Doc. 59).

         A. Standards for Discovery.

         Generally, parties “may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to a party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Plaintiff has not interposed claims of privilege to the requests as issue and the Court does not find obvious issues of privilege in the requests. Thus, the task is, for the most part, for the Court to determine whether Defendant’s discovery requests are relevant and proportional.

         Much of Plaintiff’s Response (Doc. 64) focuses on the conduct of Defendants during discovery, complaining that that Defendants have not complied with Plaintiff’s discovery requests. These issues are not relevant to the present motion. Rather, they must be evaluated on their own merit if and when raised by Plaintiff by separate motion. Given this general background, the Court thus analyses the discovery requests at issue.

         B. Requests for Production.

         Defendant propounded twelve separate Requests for Production of Documents to Plaintiff. Plaintiff submitted written responses, but did not actually produce any documents. Plaintiff is required to produce actual documents identified in the responses which are within the scope of discovery. For efficiency, Plaintiff need not produce documents which were produced to him by Defendants or marked as exhibits in depositions or pleadings, but such responsive documents must be identified in his response by specific page number or exhibit number. Plaintiff also need not produce an actual document which is clearly identified if defense counsel agrees Defendant is already in possession of the document. Otherwise, the discovery response is not complete until the document is produced to Defendant.

         Request No. 1 seeks documents Plaintiff “reasonably anticipate[s] introducing as an exhibit in the trial of this matter.” (Doc. 60-3, at 2.) Plaintiff objects that the request is overbroad, does not comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 34, and calls for irrelevant information.[1] Plaintiff’s unsupported objections are overruled. A party objecting to discovery requests has the burden to substantiate those objections unless the request is facially objectionable. See Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Kirk's Tire & Auto Serv. Cntr., 211 F.R.D. 658, 663 (D. Kan. 2003) (holding that a party objecting to undue burden or relevancy has the burden to establish the objection). Plaintiff is ORDERED to respond to Request No. 1.

         In addition to the objections, Plaintiff provided an extensive list of documents in response to this request. He did not, however, provide Defendant with the requested documents. Plaintiff is, therefore, ORDERED to provide copies of the actual documents within the parameters described in the initial paragraph of this section, supra. Defendant’s motion is GRANTED as to this request.

         Request No. 2 asks for documents “reflecting any remuneration for work . . . and/or benefits . . . Plaintiff has received since leaving employment with Defendant.” (Doc. 60-3, at 5.) Plaintiff responds that he has not worked and is living on Social Security. (Id.) Plaintiff has, however, failed to provide supporting documentation. The motion is GRANTED. Plaintiff is ORDERED to produce any documents reflecting remuneration from Social Security. Plaintiff is directed to redact (black out) his Social Security Number from any such responsive document(s) produced.

         Request No. 3 asks for Plaintiff’s tax records for the past five years. (Doc. 60-3, at 5.) Plaintiff’s relevance objection is sustained in part because the request is facially irrelevant, in part. Holick v. Burkart, No. 16-1188-JTM-KGG, 2017 WL 5904033, at *3 (D. Kan. Nov. 30, 2017). Plaintiff is ORDERED to provide his Federal Tax Returns beginning with the year he last worked for Emporia State University. This should include any form W-2, 1099, or other tax form(s) reflecting income or payments for work or government benefits. He need not produce any attachments relating only to his spouse or relating to income from interest or investments. He is directed to redact his Social Security number. The Motion is GRANTED in part.

         Request No. 4 seeks documents related to Plaintiff’s job search. (Doc. 60-3, at 5.) Plaintiff objects that the request is overbroad, unduly burdensome, and does not comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 34. Plaintiff’s unsupported objections are overruled. See Goodyear Tire, 211 F.R.D. at 663. Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED as to Request No. 4. Plaintiff is ORDERED to respond to Request No. 4.

         Request No. 5 seeks documents “on which you base your claim and/or which you contend support your allegations in the Complaint.” (Doc. 60-3, at 6.) Plaintiff’s unsupported objections to this request are overruled. Goodyear Tire, 211 F.R.D. at 663. It is likely, however, that this request is mostly, perhaps entirely, redundant with Request No. 1. Plaintiff is thus ORDERED to identify and produce any documents not identified and produced in response to Request No. 1. Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED in part as to this request.

         Request No. 6 asks for documents relating to statements by any Defendant or their representatives concerning the allegations in the Complaint. (Doc. 60-3, at 6.) Plaintiff objects that the request is overbroad, fails to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 34, and calls for irrelevant information. (Id.) Plaintiff’s unsupported objections are overruled. See Goodyear Tire, 211 F.R.D. at 663. Plaintiff will respond by identifying documents responsive to this request, ...


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