Judge Rules That Defendant’s Objections To Discovery Were Untimely And Without Specificity

26 Jul 2019

In Thomas on Behalf of Estate of Thomas v. Bannum Place, Inc., No. 4:17-cv-13492 and No. 4:18-cv-10222 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 6, 2019), the Magistrate Judge granted and denied Plaintiff’s motion to compel in part, ruling that Defendant’s objections to Plaintiff’s discovery request were waived on the grounds of failing to timely object and for objecting without specificity.

In ruling on the motion papers and oral arguments regarding Defendant’s objections to the discovery request, the Court held that all of Defendant’s objections are waived because of its “failure to timely respond and object to either set of Plaintiff’s discovery requests.”

Further, the Court held, “Defendant not only failed to make timely objections on the basis of privilege or any other bases but also failed to provide a privilege log or to otherwise meet its burden of establishing the existence of a privilege as to any of the documents at issue. Finally, even to the extent that Defendant has attempted to lodge any untimely objections on the basis of privilege, it has failed to do so ‘with specificity’ and to demonstrate ‘good cause’ for its tardiness, as required by Rule 33(b)(4), and failed to ‘state whether any documents are being withheld on the basis of that objection[,]’ as required by Rule 34(b)(2)(C).”

As a result, the Court ordered Defendant (who had previously served unsigned responses to Plaintiff’s first set of interrogatories), to “serve signed, sworn responses to Plaintiff’s first set of interrogatories by February 19, 2019, without objection, all objections having been waived pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 33(b)(4).”

With regards to sanctions, the Court also noted that “Rule 37 ‘provides generally for sanctions against parties or persons unjustifiably resisting discovery’” and stated that “Plaintiff is entitled to her reasonable expenses incurred in bringing her motion to compel, because the motion was necessary, Defendant’s failure to timely respond to discovery was not substantially justified, and there are no other circumstances that make an award of expenses unjust. Because the motion was granted in part, with Plaintiff obtaining nearly all of the relief sought, the Court will apportion the award and reduce it by fifteen percent, after calculating the total reasonable attorney fee associated with this motion.”  As a result, the Court ordered Plaintiff to “submit a bill of costs, or stipulated bill of costs, by February 19, 2019 for time incurred ‘for the motion,’ including time drafting the instant motion to compel, reply, and the joint statement, and time traveling to and from and spent attending the hearing.”