United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division, Lafayette
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Compel [DE 37],
filed by Plaintiff on February 21, 2017. Plaintiff asks the
Court to compel Defendants to more fully respond to a number
of Plaintiff's requests for documents. Defendants filed a
response on March 14, 2017, and Plaintiff filed a reply on
March 21, 2017.
may seek an order to compel discovery when an opposing party
fails to respond to discovery requests or provides evasive or
incomplete responses. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) permits discovery
“regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to
any party's claim or defense.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). Furthermore, the Rule provides that
“[r]elevant information need not be admissible at the
trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead
to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). Relevancy is “construed broadly to encompass
any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to
other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be
in the case.” Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v.
Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978) (citing Hickman v.
Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947)). A party may seek an
order to compel discovery when an opposing party fails to
respond to discovery requests or provides evasive or
incomplete responses. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a). A
party objecting to the discovery request bears the burden of
showing why the request is improper. See McGrath v.
Everest Nat. Ins. Co., 625 F.Supp.2d 660, 670 (N.D. Ind.
2008). The Court has broad discretion when deciding whether
to compel discovery. Thermal Design, Inc. v. Am.
Soc'y of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning
Eng'rs, Inc., 755 F.3d 832, 837 (7th Cir. 2014);
Rennie v. Dalton, 3 F.3d 1100, 1110 (7th Cir.
Amended Complaint seeks recovery for injuries stemming from
allegedly defective hip implant components. The components
were marketed as the PROFEMUR hip stem system and consisted
of a PROFEMUR Plasma Z stem and PROFEMUR CoCr modular neck.
Plaintiff alleges that she required revision surgery and that
there was corrosion in the system at the stem-neck interface,
so the cobalt chromium neck was replaced with a Titanium
Alloy PROFEMUR long neck. Plaintiff alleges that this device
also failed at the stem-neck interface.
requests documents relating to other versions of the titanum
and CoCr PROFEMUR modular necks, copies of communication with
the FDA regarding fretting, fracture, or corrosion of
PROFEMUR hip devices, and a request for definition of the
term “heavyweight patients” in Defendant's
advertising. Defendants object that the request for
information about other models of PROFEMUR stems is overbroad
because the models differ significantly from each other and
from those implanted in Plaintiff. They also object that the
time period of the document request is too large and
insufficiently targeted to the allegations in this case, and
that Plaintiff's interrogatory regarding
“heavyweight patients” is insufficiently
clarified and without context that would allow Defendants to
opening paragraph of Plaintiff's Motion includes a list
of numbers that she represents are requests that Defendants
have inadequately responded to; however, although the
attachments include both a list of interrogatories and a list
of requests for production, many of the same numbers appear
on both lists. The parties' briefs address categories of
objections to discovery without identifying which specific
outstanding request belongs in which category, so the Court
likewise addresses their arguments generally as to categories
of documents and will not compel any specific responses by
Other PROFEMUR Products and Methods of Failure
object to providing information about other models of
PROFEMUR products than those which were implanted in
Plaintiff, arguing that they have provided full information
about the products directly at issue in this case. Defendants
argue that Plaintiff's request for more information is a
fishing expedition and that her request is overbroad and
burdensome, not appropriately tailored to the issues in this
case. They argue that the models in the product line are not
the same, that the different sizes are intended to cover
different patient anatomies and that those different
anatomies also affect the complications and injuries the
patients suffer. Plaintiff argues that information about
other PROFEMUR models is relevant because those devices are
substantially similar to the devices implanted in Plaintiff
and that the mechanism of failure between the different
versions is the same.
argues that Defendants did not distinguish between the
versions of the modular necks or stems in their advertising,
instead emphasizing the interchangeable nature of the
PROFEMUR system without making any performance distinction.
In addition, Plaintiff points to the adverse event database
published by the Food and Drug Administration, noting that it
does not distinguish between PROFEMUR neck models, and to the
approval Defendants sought from the FDA, which likewise did
not differentiate between the necks.
Plaintiff argues, discovery into similar products with the
same component parts or structural defects is generally
permitted in products liability cases. See, e.g.,
Piacenti v. Gen. Motors Corp., 173 F.R.D. 221,
224-25 (N.D. Ill. 1997) (describing cases). Particularly
given that Defendants do not appear to distinguish between
the different PROFEMUR models when describing their safety,
and given that this is a question of what information is
discoverable, not what evidence can be admitted at trial,
Defendants have not borne their burden of establishing that
the information on other PROFEMUR models is improper.
Accordingly, Defendants must respond to Plaintiff's
requests as to all PROFEMUR neck models. To the extent that
Plaintiff is seeking information about completely different
products, Defendants have sufficiently demonstrated that
requiring them to produce documents pertaining to non-modular
neck products is unduly burdensome and not sufficiently
targeted to lead to relevant information.
Plaintiff also seeks documents relating to failure due to
fracture and fretting, in addition to corrosion, and argues
that Defendants' marketing documents reflect that
Defendants believe fretting or corrosion lead to fracture.
Defendants argue that materials pertaining to fretting and
fracture are irrelevant, and the burden of producing them is
not proportional to the needs of the case.
particularly object to providing documents and communications
between Defendants and the FDA that include discussion about
modular neck corroding, fretting, or fracturing and any
reports to or from the FDA for incidents of corroding,
fretting, or fracturing. Defendants argue that they have
sufficiently complied with this request by providing
documents regarding the products that were implanted in
Plaintiff and producing the complaint file and adverse event
reports for Plaintiff's alleged injuries. They argue that
complaint files and adverse event reports for other patients
are not relevant, too burdensome to produce, and publically
available. Defendants argue that the burden of searching its
files for all ...