Issues with Trying to Compel Overbroad Discovery Requests

Asked and Answered?

Author: Michael Mondelli III
Case Citation: Mirmina v. Genpact LLC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90422 (D. Conn. June 13, 2017)
Employee/Personnel/Employer Implicated: Plaintiff’s Counsel
eLesson Learned: Attorneys should be sure to scrupulously draft their interrogatories, while also being cognizant of local and federal standards.
Tweet This: Make sure that when you ask for documents, and then ask for the Court to COMPEL their production, that you ask in a way that is not overbroad.

Pending before the Court, in this case, was a Motion to Compel filed by plaintiff Scott Mirmina (“plaintiff”) seeking additional responses to certain interrogatories and requests for production served by plaintiff. Defendant Genpact LLC (“defendant”) filed a Motion to Strike plaintiff’s reply as untimely. Plaintiff has filed a Memorandum in Opposition to defendant’s motion, and defendant has filed a reply. Ultimately, the Court denied, in part, plaintiff’s Motion to Compel, and denied defendant’s Motion to Strike.

The Court determined that the current legal standard to employ was Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which sets forth the scope and limitations of permissible discovery:

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.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “The party resisting discovery bears the burden of showing why discovery should be denied.” Cole v. Towers Perrin Forster & Crosby, 256 F.R.D. 79, 80 (D. Conn. 2009).

Plaintiff’s motion seeks supplemental interrogatory responses and additional production of documents in response to plaintiff’s First Set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production. After the court ordered due date for supplementary responses to the interrogatories, plaintiff contended that there were still three interrogatories that remained inadequately answered. In response, defendant filed a motion to strike, asserting that the plaintiff’s motion was untimely filed. Plaintiff responded that there was good cause for the untimely filing. As previously mentioned, the defendant’s motion to strike was denied.

In deciding to deny the defendant’s motion, the Court made note of the importance of complying with deadlines and that the plaintiff did not request an extension. However, the court was disinclined to grant the motion because plaintiff’s reply served to inform the Court that most the discovery disputes between the parties were settled. The Court determined that the plaintiff’s reply was informative, and the granting of the motion would not prejudice the defendant in any substantive manner.

In regards to plaintiff’s motion to compel responses to interrogatories, defendant objects to the following requests: (1) please produce any and all documents referring to or regarding Plaintiff in any manner; (2) please produce all documents which relate to, concern or reflect the decision to terminate plaintiff’s employment with defendant; and, (3) please produce all documents, including but not limited to emails, sent … which concern, refer to, or relate to plaintiff. Defendant argues that requests 1 and 3 on the grounds that they are overbroad, and that searching for any document that concerns, refers to, regards or relates to plaintiff in any way would be unduly burdensome. Defendant also argues that the requests fail to comport with Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires that each request “describe with reasonable particularity each item or category of items to be inspected[.]” Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(1)(A). Finally, defendant argues that these two requests “plainly fail the proportionality test[.] As to Request for Production 2, defendant represents that it has produced all responsive documents. 

Plaintiff argues that the information sought by these three requests for production is relevant and is “anticipated to provide explicit evidence of exactly who said what, when and to whom concerning Plaintiff’s work and the circumstances and events that led to his termination.” The Court agrees with the defendant that Requests for Production 1 and 3 are overbroad, as originally framed. The requests are unlimited in subject matter and in time, and therefore would sweep in numerous documents that bear no relevance to the claims or defenses raised in this matter. Further, the requests do not comply with Rule 34, in that they do not “describe with reasonable particularity each item or category of items to be inspected.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(1)(A). Accordingly, the Court denied plaintiff’s motion to compel as to requests 1 and 3.

However, the Court noted that this case is subject to the Initial Discovery Protocols for Employment Cases Alleging Adverse Action (“Initial Discovery Protocols”) under the District of Connecticut Local Rules. The court concluded that the requirements of the Protocols sufficiently address the relevant discovery plaintiff seeks by Requests 1 and 3, but are more appropriately tailored to the claims at issue. Accordingly, to the extent that defendant did not provide the materials required by the Initial Discovery Protocols, the defendant was ordered to do so immediately.

Michael Mondelli III received a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Drew University in 2015. He will receive his J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law in 2018. Present, Michael interns for the U.S. Trustee’s Office. After Graduation, Michael will clerk for a civil judge in the Superior Court of New Jersey.

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