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Funk v. Pinnacle Health Facilities XXXII, LP

United States District Court, D. Kansas

November 19, 2018

MARK FUNK, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PINNACLE HEALTH FACILITIES XXXII, LP, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER ON MOTIONS TO COMPEL

          HON. KENNETH G. GALE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Now before the Court are Plaintiffs' two Motion to Compel supplemental responses to Plaintiffs' first and second sets of Interrogatories to Pinnacle Health Facilities XXXII, LP d/b/a Clearwater Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (hereinafter “Defendant”). (Docs. 77 and 87.) Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, Plaintiffs' first motion (Doc. 77) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part and Plaintiffs' second motion (Doc. 87) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as more fully set forth below.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The factual background of this case was summarized by the District Court in its Order denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend and granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' negligence claim.

Plaintiffs, Mark Funk and Alan Funk, filed the present negligence and wrongful death suit against defendant, Pinnacle Health Facilities, based on Dorothy Funk's fall at the Clearwater Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Clearwater, Kansas. From September 29, 2014, to December 1, 2014, Dorothy was a resident at the Clearwater Nursing facility.
Plaintiffs allege that on October 1, 2014, Clearwater's records indicate that Dorothy suffered a non-injury fall on the premises and her Care Plan was updated to say, ‘[p]rovide Dorothy with grabber to alleviate her reaching forward from her wheelchair . . . and endangering [her] safety.' Nine days later on October 10, the Care Plan added or initiated this goal: ‘Dorothy will remain free from significant injuries resulting from falls.' Plaintiffs additionally allege that this non-[injury] fall was not reported to Mark Funk, holder of Dorothy's durable power of attorney. Knowledge of the non-injury fall was not made known to Mark or Alan Funk until the medical records were provided after Dorothy's death.
Plaintiffs further allege that on December 1, 2014, Dorothy fell out of her wheelchair while reaching forward, fracturing her hip. According to the Clearwater EMS Report, the fall was unwitnessed, but a Clearwater staff member heard Dorothy screaming after the fall. December 1, 2014, was the last time that Clearwater Nursing provided care to Dorothy.

(Doc. 21, at 1-2.)

         Currently pending before the Court are Plaintiffs' two motions to compel supplemental interrogatory responses from Defendant. (Docs. 77, 87.) While it appears that certain issues could have been completely resolved prior to filing the motions, discussed infra, the Court finds that the parties engaged in a sufficient effort to confer regarding these discovery issues.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standards.

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b) states that

[p]arties 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 state 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.

         As such, the requested information must be nonprivileged, relevant, and proportional to the needs of the case to be discoverable. Holick v. Burkhart, No. 16-1188-JTM-KGG, 2018 WL 372440, at *2 (D. Kan. Jan. 11, 2018).

         II. Boilerplate Objections.

         Unless a discovery request is facially objectionable, the party resisting discovery has the burden to support its objections. Sonnino v. University of Kansas Hosp. Authority, 221 F.R.D. 661, n. 36 (D. Kan. 2004) (citing Hammond v. Lowe's Home Ctrs., Inc., 216 F.R.D. 666, 670 (D. Kan. 2003)); Cont'l Ill. Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago v. Caton, 136 F.R.D. 682, 685 (D. Kan. 1991) (stating that a party resisting a discovery request based on relevancy grounds bears the burden of explaining how “each discovery request is irrelevant, not reasonably calculated to the discovery of admissible evidence, or burdensome”). A party opposing a discovery request cannot make conclusory allegations that a request is irrelevant, immaterial, unduly burdensome, or overly broad. Instead, the party resisting discovery must show specifically how each discovery request is irrelevant, immaterial, unduly burdensome or overly broad. Gheesling v. Chater, 162 F.R.D. 649, 650 (D. Kan. 1995) (citation omitted). Merely stating that a particular word or phrase is vague or ambiguous does not suffice unless the verbiage is facially objectionable. The same is true for an assertion that a request seeks irrelevant information, is overly broad, or is not proportional to the needs of the case - the responding party must explain how or why the requested information is irrelevant or disproportional unless the request is facially inappropriate.

         III. Plaintiff's Definition of “Identify.”

         Plaintiffs included the “definitions” with both sets of discovery requests. (Doc. 78, at 5; Doc. 88-1.) The word “identify” is defined as:

7. To “identify” or “describe” a document or record, or any equivalent language used anywhere herein, means to state with respect thereto:
(a) the nature or substance of the document, with sufficient particularly to enable it to be located and identified;
b) its date and, if it bears no date, the date it was prepared;
(c) the physical location of it and the name of its custodian or custodians;
(d) if the document has been previously produced by any party, its Bates stamp number and/or exhibit number;
(e) the identity of the person who prepared it, including their name, any previous names, their last known address, job description, date of birth, and social security number;
(f) the identity of the person who signed it or over whose signature it was issued; and
(g) the identity of each person to whom it was addressed or distributed, including that person's social security number.
8. To “identify” or “describe” any person means to state their name, previous names, phone number, last known address, previous addresses of which defendant is aware or has access, email address, job description, date of birth, social security number, and whether such person is represented by counsel and, if so, the contact information for such counsel.

         Defendant objects to Plaintiffs' Definitions 7 and 8 of “identify” as “overly broad, unduly burdensome, and they seek information neither relevant to this lawsuit nor proportional to the needs of this case.” (Doc. 88-1, at 17; see also Doc. 86, at 4-5, Doc. 95, at n.3.)

         Plaintiffs argue that Defendant's discovery responses merely make boilerplate objections to Definitions 7 and 8, and then refer Plaintiffs generally to broad classes of documents without specific references to the exact nature of the information referenced or to its location within those broad categories of documents.” (Doc. 87, at 2.) The Court agrees that Defendant has generally failed to establish how the term “identify” as defined by Plaintiffs is request is overly broad, unduly burdensome or disproportionate to the needs of the case. Gheesling, 162 F.R.D. at 650. While highly specific, Plaintiffs' definition of what constitutes identifying a person (their name(s), phone number, current and former address, email address, job description, date of birth, social security number, and contact of counsel if represented) is not facially overbroad, unduly burdensome, or disproportionate to the needs of the ...


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