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Thomas G. Payne v. Belgarde Property Services

November 29, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Veronica L. Duffy United States Magistrate Judge


This matter is before the court on plaintiff Thomas Payne's complaint against defendant Belgarde Property Services, Inc. alleging various claims that arose out of plaintiff's former employment with defendant. The district court, the Honorable Jeffrey L. Viken, referred this case to this court for the purposes of resolving pending motions and conducting any hearings, including evidentiary hearings, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

Mr. Payne filed a motion to compel discovery responses for document production and interrogatories. See Docket No. 37. Belgarde Property Services, Inc. ("Belgarde") filed a response to Mr. Payne's motion setting forth explanations of the objections based on privacy concerns. See Docket No. 48.

The parties have since stipulated that the court enter a protective order with restrictions to account for the confidential nature of the requested information and documents. See Docket No. 54. This court did enter the requested protective order. See Docket No. 55. Accordingly, Mr. Payne's requests may now be moot. This court will consider whether any documents or information remain which were not addressed by the protective order.

A. Requests for Production

Mr. Payne sent the following requests for production of documents on August 13, 2012:

(1) "Originals or copies of all statements and documents pertaining to allegations by Mr. Payne regarding his former supervisor, Kevin Jeffries."

(2a) "Originals or copies of my complaints which may have been filed internally where applicable."

(2b) "Copies of investigative notes, copies, or warnings provided to my supervisor, Kevin Jeffries, or to his supervisor, Deana Fulton. Copies of the personnel files of my supervisor, Kevin Jeffries, and his supervisor, Deana Fulton regarding complaints by other employees or tenants."

(2c) "Also requested are copies of employee handbooks or manuals and relevant complaint policies that were in effect anytime during plaintiffs [sic] employment with Belgarde." See Docket No. 37-2.

Belgarde explained its responses and objections to Mr. Payne's requests and interrogatories in its response to plaintiff's motion to compel. See Docket No. 48. As for the documents pertaining to Mr. Payne's allegations (Request for Production 1), Belgarde objected to any documents prepared in preparation for litigation as non-discoverable work product or as protected by attorney-client privilege. See Docket No. 48 at 11.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33 provides that a party may object to interrogatories:

The grounds for objecting to an interrogatory must be stated with specificity. Any ground not stated in a timely objection is waived unless the court, for good cause, excuses the failure. FED. R. CIV. P. 33(b)(4).

The court finds Belgarde's objection is proper because Belgarde specifically explained the grounds for objecting and the circumstances under which Belgarde would produce any relevant documents. The only discoverable document relevant to this request which Belgarde had not provided to Mr. Payne was an affidavit contained in Kevin Jeffries' personnel file. Id. Belgarde agreed to produce this document once the court issued a protective order. As the court has entered such protective order, this request for production is now moot. See Docket Nos. 54 and 55.

Belgarde asserted it was not aware of any internally filed complaints by Mr. Payne (Request for Production 2a) other than those it had previously provided. Id. Belgarde agreed to produce complaints, if any, located in employee personnel files (Request for Production 2b) once this court issued a protective order. Id. at 12. Finally, Belgarde advised Mr. Payne that handbooks, manuals, and complaint policies (Request for Production 2c) had already been produced. Id. As the parties have stipulated to the restrictions of a protective order and the court has entered such a protective order, these requests for production are now moot. See Docket Nos. 54 and 55.

All of the documents Mr. Payne requested have already been provided to Mr. Payne, fall into non-discoverable material, or were produced subsequent to this court's entry of the protection order. Therefore, Mr. Payne's motion to compel is denied as moot as to the requests for production of documents.

B. Interrogatories

Mr. Payne set forth his list of interrogatories on August 13, 2012:

(1) "State your full name; place of birth; your address at the time of the 'subject incidents;' your present address; your occupation and employer."

(2) "Do you have knowledge of or have in your possession any notes, reports of conversations or interviews pertaining to any of the issues in this case?"

(3) "Did you ever give any statements either oral or written affidavits concerning the claims or assertions made by Mr. Payne?"

(4) "Please state the substance or any declarations made by you that may substantiate Mr. Payne's claims against your employer. IE: conversations between you ...

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