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D.M. v. Wesley Medical Center LLC

United States District Court, D. Kansas

May 9, 2019

D.M., a minor, by and through his next friend and natural guardian, KELLI MORGAN, Plaintiff,



         Now before the Court is the Motion to Compel filed by Plaintiff regarding Requests for Admissions served on Defendants Borick, White, and Hartpence (hereinafter “resident Defendants” or “Defendants”). (Doc. 266.) Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part for the reasons set forth below.


         Plaintiff, through his natural guardian and next friend, filed his federal court Complaint on April 9, 2018, alleging claims under Kansas medical malpractice laws and under the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. The claims result from the medical care he received on March 5 and 6, 2017. Plaintiff alleges that on March 6, 2017, he “suffered a catastrophic and medically-preventable stroke that left him with right-side paralysis, neurological damage and other debilitating physical injuries that permanently changed his and his parents' lives.” (Doc. 1, at 5.)

         Plaintiff served identical Requests for Admissions (“RFAs”) on the resident Defendants. Plaintiff complains that “[e]very answer” of the resident Defendants “to every RFA contains an objection followed by a ‘without waiving such objection' conditional response.” (Doc. 266, at 1.) Plaintiff continues that the resident Defendants “also blanket their responses with general objections, ” which Plaintiff contends are improper.


         I. Conditional Objections.

         The resident Defendants' responses to the Requests for Admission begin with a set of “general objections, ” which are enumerated before they provide responses to any of the specific Requests. (See Doc. 266-1, at 3-11; Doc. 266-2, at 3-12; Doc. 266-3, at 3-14.) The specifics of the “general objections” are discussed more thoroughly in Section II, infra.

         As to each specific Request for Admission, the resident Defendants respond by stating “Objection. See the general objections stated above.” (See generally Docs. 266-1, 266-2, and 266-3. Defendants then state that “[w]ithout waiving such objection, ” they are admitting or denying each particular Request. (Id.) This is known as a “conditional response” or “conditional objection, ” which “occur[s]when a party asserts objections, but then provides a response ‘subject to' or ‘without waiving' the stated objections.” Westlake v. BMO Harris Bank N.A., No. 13-2300-CM-KGG, 2014 WL 1012669, *3 (D. Kan. March 17, 2014).

         Courts in this District have previously ruled that conditional objections are “manifestly confusing (at best) and misleading (at worse [sic]), and [have] no basis at all in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Sprint Commun. Co., L.P. v. Comcast Cable Commun., LLC, No. 11-2684-JWL, 11-2685-JWL, 11-2686-JWL, 2014 WL 545544, at *2 (Feb. 11, 2014) (reaching this conclusion as to conditional responses raised in response to Requests for Production of Documents). This District has specifically held that “such conditional answers are invalid and unsustainable.” Sprint, 2014 WL 545544, at *2. It places the requesting party in the impossible situation of being “uncertain as to whether the question has actually been fully answered or whether only a portion of the question has been answered.” Id. (quoting with approval Consumer Elec. Ass'n v. Compras and Buys Magazine, Inc., No. 08-21085, 2008 WL 4327253, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 18, 2008) (reaching this conclusion in context of Requests for Production of Documents).)

         The undersigned Magistrate Judge has specifically indicated his disapproval of conditional responses, that, as with the responses at issue, occur when “a party asserts objections, but then provides a response ‘subject to' or ‘without waiving' the stated objections.” Barcus v. Phoenix Insurance Co., No. 17-2492-JWL-KGG, 2018 WL 1794900, at *3 (D. Kan. April 16, 2018) (in context of interrogatories and document requests) (citing Westlake, 2014 WL 1012669, at *3 (internal citation omitted)). This Court has held that such conditional responses are “invalid, ” “unsustainable, ” and “violate common sense.” Everlast World's Boxing Headquarters Corp. v. Ringside, Inc., No. 13-2150-CM-KGG, 2014 WL 2815515, at *3 (D. Kan. June 23, 2014) (internal citation omitted).

         Defendants contend, however, that Plaintiff's argument is misplaced. Defendants argue that the cases relied upon by Plaintiff discuss Interrogatories or Requests for Production, which are discovery requests, while the present motion involves Requests for Admission, which “are not a discovery device … .” (Doc. 276, at 5.)

         Requests for Admission are governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 36. The Rule allows a party to serve a written request on another party to admit “the truth of any matters within the scope of Rule 26(b)(1) relating to: (A) facts, the application of law to fact, or opinions about either; and (B) the genuineness of any described documents.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(1). Requests for Admission serve two purposes, which are “designed to reduce trial time.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 36 advisory committee's note to 1970 amendment. “Admissions are sought, first to facilitate proof with respect to issues that cannot be eliminated from the case, and secondly, to narrow the issues by eliminating those that can be.” Id.; see also Richard v. Sedgwick County Bd. Of Comm'rs, No. 09-1278-MLB, 10-1042-MLB, 2013 WL 3467124, *1 (D. Kan. July 10, 2013). Thus, Requests for Admission are “not [intended] to discover additional information concerning the subject of the request, but to force the opposing party to formally admit the truth of certain facts, thus allowing the requesting party to avoid potential problems of proof.” Solis v. La Familia Corp., No. 10-2400-EFM-GLR, 2012 WL 1906508, at *2 (D. Kan. May 25, 2012). As such, Defendants argue that courts must treat Requests for Admission differently than discovery requests. (Doc. 276, at 6.)

         Defendants criticize Plaintiff's position, stating that “[t]he authorities cited by Plaintiff did not concern requests for admission, and none of the decisions applied any such ruling to requests for admission.” (Id., at 5.) Even assuming this to be correct, Defendants have failed to acknowledge a ruling by the undersigned Magistrate Judge holding that conditional objections to Requests for Admission are improper, as are conditional objections to discovery requests. Everlast, 2014 WL 2815515, at *3. In Everlast, the undersigned Magistrate Judge found all such conditional responses, including those in response to Requests for Admission, to be “‘invalid,' ‘unsustainable,' and to ‘violate common ...

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