United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
LARSON MANUFACTURING COMPANY OF SOUTH DAKOTA, INC., SUPERIOR HOMES, LLC, Plaintiffs,
WESTERN SHOW HOMES, INC., AMERICAN MODULAR HOUSING GROUP, LLC, AMERICAN MODULAR HOUSING GROUP, INC., PAUL THOMAS, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL
DOCKET NO. 19
VERONICA L. DUFFY United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, after defendants removed
the matter from South Dakota state court. See Docket
No. 1, 1-1. Plaintiffs Larson Manufacturing Company of South
Dakota, Inc. and Superior Homes, LLC (collectively
"plaintiffs") have filed a motion to compel
defendants to provide discovery responses. See
Docket No. 19.
facts alleged by plaintiffs are straight forward. Plaintiffs
served discovery requests (a first set of interrogatories and
requests for the production of documents) on defendants
December 6, 2016. See Docket No. 21-1. Defendants
failed to respond within the 30-day response period allotted
by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Docket
No. 21. Plaintiffs' counsel contacted defendants'
counsel to inquire about obtaining defendants' responses
on three occasions: January 19, 2017; February 1, 2017; and
February 17, 2017. Id.; Docket No. 21-2. Despite
assurances to the contrary, defendants never responded to the
discovery requests. See Docket No. 21. On February
27, 2017, plaintiffs filed the instant motion. See
Docket Nos. 19-21.
response to the motion is two-fold. First, defendants assert
that they have provided plaintiffs with numerous documents
already. See Docket No. 23. Defendants also assure
the court that, as of March 20, 2017, they have "nearly
completed" responses to plaintiffs' "formal
discovery requests" and "expect to provide
them" to plaintiffs that week. Id.
reply brief, filed April 3, 2017, indicate that
defendants' counsel forwarded to plaintiffs' counsel
unsigned discovery responses on March 27, 2017. See
Docket No. 24. As of April 3, plaintiffs had received no
signed discovery requests from defendants. Id. As to
the documents previously provided by defendants to
plaintiffs, plaintiffs assert these documents relate to only
part of their claims; they have received no requested
documents relevant to other claims plaintiffs have asserted.
See Docket No. 26. Plaintiffs request an order from
the court requiring defendants to provide signed discovery
responses, requested documents, and awarding the sum of $2,
584.76 in reasonable attorneys fees incurred in bringing the
motion to compel.
to parties in a lawsuit must be answered within 30 days after
they are served. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(2). The
parties may stipulate to a longer or shorter response time.
Id. Answers to interrogatories must be full and
complete unless objected to with specificity. Id. at
(b)(3) & (4). The party or its agent who makes the
answers must sign the answers under oath. Id.
rules apply to requests for the production of documents.
Responses to document requests must be made within 30 days of
the service of the request unless the parties stipulate to a
shorter or longer response time. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
34(b)(2). The responding party must state whether copies will
be provided or inspection allowed. Id. In the
alternative, if an objection to producing the documents is
made, the objection must be lodged with specificity.
a party need not reproduce documents previously produced, the
party must indicate with specificity the documents which are
responsive to the request. So if, for example, documents
BATES stamped 1-57 are responsive to document request number
1 and were previously provided to the requesting party (for
example in the responding parties' initial disclosures),
the written response to document request number 1 would be:
"documents responsive to this request were previously
provided and are BATES stamped 1-57." In actuality, the
responding party is objecting to the discovery request on the
grounds of duplication, but the requirement for stating the
objection with specificity requires explaining how
the request is duplicitous. Furthermore, if the document
request was broader than the documents BATES stamped 1-57,
the responding party would-of course-have an obligation to
produce the additional documents.
of the Rules of Civil Procedure provides the method for
enforcing the other discovery rules. If a responding party
fails to respond to a discovery request, or responds
evasively or incompletely, the requesting party may file a
motion to compel after first attempting to resolve the matter
in good faith with the other party. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(a)(1), (a)(3)(B), and (a)(4). The rule provides that the
court "must" impose sanctions in the form of
reasonable expenses incurred in making the motion if the
responding party provides the discovery responses after the
filing of the motion to compel. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(a)(5)(A). Exceptions to this mandatory requirement for
imposing sanctions are (1) if the movant failed to attempt a
good faith settlement of the issue before filing the motion,
(2) the responding party's failure to respond was
"substantially justified, " or (3) other
circumstances make an award of sanctions unjust. Id.
court finds plaintiffs' motion well-founded. Defendants
did not lodge any objections with specificity to
plaintiffs' discovery requests. In addition, defendants
did not provide their responses to plaintiffs' discovery
requests until after the motion to compel was filed. Finally,
although plaintiffs' reply has been pending for over a
month, defendants have not asserted any of the three possible
grounds that might defeat an award of sanctions. Neither have
defendants objected to the amount of sanctions ...