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Riley v. PK Management, LLC

United States District Court, D. Kansas

February 8, 2019

LEORA RILEY, et al., Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
PK MANAGEMENT, LLC, et al., Defendants.


          Teresa J. James, U.S. Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Discovery (ECF No. 78). Plaintiffs address alleged inadequacies in responses by Defendants Aspen Companies Management, LLC (Aspen) and Central Park Holdings, LLC (CPH) to their First Interrogatories. Plaintiffs ask the Court to (1) compel Defendant Aspen to provide a full response to Interrogatory 6, and (2) overrule objections by Defendants Aspen and CPH to a portion of Interrogatory 5 and compel their response thereto. Defendants Aspen and CPH oppose the motion. As set forth below, the Court grants the motion in part and denies it in part.

         I. Relevant Background

         On August 6, 2018, Plaintiffs served their First Interrogatories on Aspen and on CPH. Each Defendant served its answers on October 9, 2018, and both sets of answers contained five objections to Interrogatory 5. During the parties' subsequent discussions, they resolved four of the objections, and on December 28, 2018, each Defendant served supplemental interrogatory answers. The supplemental answers retained an objection that Interrogatory 5 seeks in part information appropriate to merits discovery, and neither Defendant provided an answer to the subpart which seeks information Defendants deem appropriate for merits discovery, i.e. the total amount of rent paid by residents of the apartment complex between January 26, 2013 and present.

         In addition, Defendant Aspen's supplemental answer to Interrogatory 6 identified three pest control companies that provided extermination services since January 26, 2013, along with the point of contact for two of those companies. With respect to the third, Aspen responded the point of contact name is “Unknown.” Plaintiffs timely filed the instant motion and assert that counsel complied with the requirements of D. Kan. Rule 37.2. The Court finds that counsel made a reasonable attempt to resolve the issues in dispute without court action, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1) and D. Kan. Rule 37.2.

         II. Legal Standards

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) sets out the general scope of discovery. As amended in 2015, it provides as follows:

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, 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.[1]

         Considerations of both relevance and proportionality now govern the scope of discovery.[2]

         Relevance is still to be “construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on” any party's claim or defense.[3]Information still “need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.”[4] The amendment deleted the “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” phrase, however, because it was often misused to define the scope of discovery and had the potential to “swallow any other limitation.”[5]

         The consideration of proportionality is not new, as it has been part of the federal rules since 1983.[6] Moving the proportionality provisions to Rule 26 does not place on the party seeking discovery the burden of addressing all proportionality considerations. If a discovery dispute arises that requires court intervention, the parties' responsibilities remain the same as under the pre-amendment Rule.[7] In other words, when the discovery sought appears relevant, the party resisting discovery has the burden to establish the lack of relevancy by demonstrating that the requested discovery (1) does not come within the scope of relevancy as defined under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), or (2) is of such marginal relevancy that the potential harm occasioned by discovery would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of broad disclosure.[8]Conversely, when the relevancy of the discovery request is not readily apparent on its face, the party seeking the discovery has the burden to show the relevancy of the request.[9] Relevancy determinations are generally made on a case-by-case basis.[10]

         III. Analysis

         The Court considers in turn each of Plaintiffs' challenges to Defendants' timely-asserted objections.

         A. ...

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