Failing to Meet and Confer Results In Annoying a Federal Judge
District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer had obviously had enough of the parties’ discovery disputes in Herron v. Fannie Mae, CV No. 10-943 (RMC) (D.D.C. Feb. 2, 2105) when she titled her latest discovery order “Order on One Millionth Discovery Dispute.”
The case, which involves allegations of wrongful termination by a Fannie Mae contractor, had involved numerous discovery disputes and numerous extensions of the discovery deadline (which the court had finally ruled would not extend beyond the end of February 2015). Despite the new discovery cut-off, the parties came again before the court requesting a telephone conference regarding disputes involving Rule 30(b)(6) depositions. Contrary to its usual practice of honoring such requests for a telephone conference (and clearly annoyed by the parties’ incessant discovery disputes), the court ruled in writing based upon each party’s letter submission.
The parties disagreed chiefly over two points. First, Plaintiff sought broad information regarding bonuses given to all Fannie Mae executives over a two year period. The court denied Plaintiff’s request, finding that Plaintiff’s allegations did not entitle her to such a broad request for information, noting that “the topics could have, and should have, been laser focused” (i.e., the parties should have met and conferred to narrow this request before approaching the court). Second, Defendants refused Plaintiff’s request to designate two witnesses as 30(b)(6) witnesses because Plaintiff had already deposed those witnesses. The court agreed that the witnesses did not need to be re-deposed, and ordered that Defendant should either designate the original witnesses as the 30(b)(6) witnesses to the extent of their prior testimonies, or produce a different witness.
Under FRCP 25(f), parties in civil litigation must attempt to make a good faith effort at resolving issues of discovery and electronically stored information before involving the court. The parties here had clearly failed to meaningfully engage in that process, much to the court’s understandable upset (and to their own detriment).
Did you know? The NY Times deemed Justice Antonin Scalia the most sarcastic U.S. Supreme Court justice to date, penning 75 out of 134 “sarcastic” or “caustic” opinions.