United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL
WOLLMANN, United States Magistrate Judge
a bad faith diversity action brought by Plaintiff, Jeff
Collins, against Defendants, St. Paul Fire and Marine
Insurance Company and the Traveler's Companies, Inc.
(hereinafter collectively referred to as “St.
Paul/Travelers”). (Doc. 1). Pending before the court is
a motion filed by Collins to compel St. Paul/Travelers to
provide certain discovery. (Doc. 38). The presiding district
judge, the Honorable Jeffrey L. Viken, Chief Judge, referred
this motion to this magistrate judge for a decision. (Doc.
facts as pertinent to the pending motion are as follows.
Collins sustained a work related injury and underwent
multiple back surgeries. St. Paul/Travelers paid for these
surgeries, along with total disability benefits. St.
Paul/Travelers terminated Collins' disability benefits
after his eighth back surgery. Approximately 8½ months
later, Collins' physician prescribed another surgical
procedure. St. Paul/Travelers required Collins to undergo a
medical evaluation by Nolan Segal, M.D. Initially, St.
Paul/Travelers denied coverage for the recommended surgery.
Collins underwent the surgical procedure which was paid for
by his own health insurer. Thereafter, St. Paul/Travelers
reimbursed Collins' health insurer. Collins and St.
Paul/Travelers negotiated a settlement of his worker's
thereafter initiated this civil action against St.
Paul/Travelers, alleging bad faith denial of his medical care
(surgery), denial of temporary total disability benefits, and
conditioning a term of the settlement upon Collins releasing
a bad faith claim. St. Paul/Travelers denies that it acted in
bad faith and asserts the affirmative defense of failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Whether Plaintiff Has “Met and Conferred” With
notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may
move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. The
motion must include a certification that the movant has in
good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person
or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort
to obtain it without court action.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
Paul/Travelers argues that Collins failed to meet his burden
to meet and confer because the January 6, 2016, meeting was
held prior to Collins filing his amended complaint and while
St.Paul/Travelers was supplementing its discovery responses.
(Doc. 44, p. 4).
moving party's motion may contain the equivalent of this
certification in which the attorney “confirms that it
has attempted in good faith to resolve this discovery dispute
[with opposing counsel]” prior to filing the motion.
See Highmark, Inc. v. Northwest Pipe Co., No. CIV
10-5089-JLV, 2012 WL 997007, *4 (D.S.D. Mar. 23, 2012).
purpose of the meet and confer requirement is to force
litigants to attempt to resolve, or at least narrow, the
disputed issues to prevent the unnecessary waste of time and
effort on any given motion.” Robinson v.
Napolitano, No. CIV. 08-4084, 2009 WL 1586959, *3
(D.S.D. June 4 2009) (internal quotations omitted) (citing
Alexander v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 186
F.R.D. 197, 199 (D.D.C. 1999)).
parties' briefing and exhibits set forth the actions
taken by the parties which Collins' believes met the meet
and confer requirements. The court will accept this
description as equivalent to the required certification and
finds that Collins has satisfied its duty to confer in good
faith with counsel for St.Paul/Travelers to try to work out
these differences before filing the instant motion.
Therefore, the court will consider the motion on its merits.
Whether the Discovery Must be Provided Scope of
scope of discovery for civil cases is set forth in Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) which provides as follows:
Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of
discovery is 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
the scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to
FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1).
party seeking discovery is merely required to make a
threshold showing of relevance, which is more relaxed than
the showing required for relevance in the context of
admissibility.” Klynsma v. Hydradyne, LLC, No.
CIV. 13-5016-JLV, 2015 WL 5773703, *16 (D.S.D. Sept. 30,
2015) (citing Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437
U.S. 340, 350-51 (1978)). The party resisting discovery must
show specifically how each request is irrelevant or unduly
burdensome. Klynsma, 2015 WL 5773703 at *16 (citing
St Paul Reinsurance Co., 198 F.R.D. at 512).
scope of discovery under Rule 26(b) is extremely broad.
See 8 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice & Procedure § 2007, 36-37
(1970)(hereinafter “Wright & Miller”). The
reason for the broad scope of discovery is that
"[m]utual knowledge of all the relevant facts gathered
by both parties is essential to proper litigation. To that
end, either party may compel the other to disgorge whatever
facts he has in his possession." 8 Wright & Miller,
' 2007, 39 (quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S.
495, 507-08, 67 S.Ct. 385, 392, 91 L.Ed.2d 451 (1947)). The
Federal Rules distinguish between discoverability and
admissibility of evidence. FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1), 32, and
33(a)(2) & (c). Therefore, the rules of evidence assume
the task of keeping out incompetent, unreliable, or
prejudicial evidence at trial. These considerations are not
inherent barriers to discovery, however.
is to be broadly construed for discovery issues and is not
limited to the precise issues set out in the pleadings.
Relevancy ... encompass[es] ‘any matter that could bear
on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could
bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case.'”
E.E.O.C. v. Woodmen of the World Life Ins. Society,
2007 WL 1217919 at *1 (D. Neb. March 15, 2007) (quoting
Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351
(1978)). The party seeking discovery must make a
“threshold showing of relevance before production of
information, which does not reasonably bear on the issues in
the case, is required.” Id. (citing Hofer
v. Mack Trucks, Inc., 981 F.2d 377, 380 (8th Cir.
1993)). “Mere speculation that information might be
useful will not suffice; litigants seeking to compel
discovery must describe with a reasonable degree of
specificity, the information they hope to obtain and its
importance to their case.” Id. (citing
Cervantes v. Time, Inc., 464 F.2d 986, 994 (8th Cir.
information itself need not be admissible at trial; rather,
the defining question is whether it is within the scope of
discovery. See FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1).
Additionally, the court may limit the frequency and extent of
discovery. See FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(2); see
also Roberts v. Shawnee Mission Ford, Inc., 352
F.3d 358, 361 (8th Cir. 2003) (“The rule vests the
district court with discretion to limit discovery if it
determines, inter alia, the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit.”);
Continental Illinois Nat'l Bank & Trust
Co. of Chicago v. Caton, 136 F.R.D. 682, 684-85 (D.
1991) (“All discovery requests are a burden on the
party who must respond thereto. Unless the task of producing
or answering is unusual, undue or extraordinary, the general
rule requires the entity answering or producing the documents
to bear that burden.”).
Whether the court should overrule all of defendant's
boilerplate “General Objections.”
St. Paul/Traveler's Interrogatory Answers and Responses
to Request for Production of Documents, Defendants set forth
a plethora of “General Objections” which are then
specifically incorporated into each answer or response. (Doc.
39-3, p. 1-2; Doc. 39-4, p. 1-2). The stated grounds for the
14 general objections used in both the Answers and Responses
include the following: overly broad, unduly burdensome,
harassing, vague, ambiguous, irrelevant, undefined terms,
attorney-client or work product privileges, seeks information
from non-parties, seeks information outside the possession
and control of defendant, not causally related to the
handling of plaintiff's claim, trade secrets, 3rd party
plaintiffs are not entitled to relief, and its reservation of
right to supplement or modify its answers or responses.
defense of these general objections, St. Paul/Travelers
argues that it was merely preserving its objections.
Additionally, it argues that these objection were made, in
part, to point out the expansive scope of discovery sought by
Collins. Neither of these reasons form the basis to either
preserve any valid objection or withhold information. The
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a party objecting to
discovery to show specifically how each discovery request is
irrelevant or otherwise not subject to ...