United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
DANIELLE L. ARCHER, Plaintiff,
T&J EXPRESS, INC., and JAMES D. RAYSSER, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Compel Discovery
Responses [DE 27], filed by Plaintiff on December 21, 2017,
and Defendants' Motion for Protective Order [DE 32].
Plaintiff asks the Court to compel Defendants to provide
additional information regarding the witnesses whom
defendants have designated as testifying experts. Defendants
filed a response on January 4, 2018 and on January 9, 2018,
Plaintiff filed a reply. On January 11, 2018, Defendants
received leave of Court and filed a sur-response regarding
the timing of Plaintiff's Motion to Compel, and on
January 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed a sur-reply.
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.
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) also allows the Court, for good
cause, to issue an order to protect a party from discovery
“from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue
burden or expense, ” including “forbidding
inquiry into certain matters.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(c)(1)(D). Rule 26(c) “essentially operates to
balance the public's interest in open proceedings against
an individual's private interest in avoiding annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.”
Felling v. Knight, 211 F.R.D. 552, 554 (S.D. Ind.
2003) (quotations omitted). “The party moving for a
protective order must establish that good cause exists for
the Court to exercise its discretion in entering a protective
order.” Nieves v. OPA, Inc., 948 F.Supp.2d
887, 891 (N.D. Ill. 2013).
Amended Complaint seeks recovery for damages sustained in a
motor vehicle accident. The discovery deadline in this case
expired on July 7, 2017. Defendant argues that the instant
Motion to Compel is untimely because it came after the
discovery deadline had expired, and there was no motion for
extension of time to complete discovery. In her sur-reply,
Plaintiff represents that the parties informally extended
discovery through August 11, 2017, and that Defendant
responded to requests even later, on September 22, 2017. It
is these requests that are the subject of the instant Motion
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6, “[w]hen an act may
or must be done within a specified time, the court may, for
good cause, extend the time: . . . (A) before the original
time or its extension expires; or (B) on motion made after
the time has expired if the party failed to act because of
excusable neglect.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1). To determine
whether the neglect was excusable, the Court must
“tak[e] into consideration all relevant circumstances
including the danger of prejudice to the non-moving party,
the length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial
proceedings, the reason for the delay, including whether it
was within the reasonable control of the movant, and whether
the movant acted in good faith.” Marquez v.
Mineta, 424 F.3d 539, 541 (7th Cir. 2005) (quotations
and citations omitted).
discovery deadline expired on July 7, 2017, and neither party
requested an extension of that deadline from the Court. While
the Court appreciates the attempt of the parties to come to
an agreement without involving the Court, per Rule 6, the
parties should have filed a request for extension with the
Court outlining their agreement. However, since both parties
continued to participate in discovery after the Court's
deadline, neither is prejudiced, and the Court does not find
that Plaintiff acted in bad faith. Accordingly, the Court
finds good cause to reopen discovery in this case and extend
the deadline for only as long as it takes to complete the
discovery described below.
Motion to Compel
now moves to compel Defendants to respond to interrogatories
and requests for production regarding potential bias of the
witnesses they expect to testify as experts at trial,
including their tax information and information about their
past history as testifying and consulting experts. Defendants
object to providing some of the information, and as to the
rest of it, propose to provide it through depositions rather
than written discovery. Defendants seek a protective order
that prohibits Plaintiff from seeking tax information of the
witnesses and restricting their responses to a deposition.
initial matter, the Court notes that in her reply, Plaintiff
agrees to withdraw her request for the witnesses's income
tax returns. Accordingly, that portion of Plaintiff's
motion to compel and of Defendants' motion for protective
order are moot. Defendants need not produce tax documentation
of their expert witnesses or otherwise respond to
Plaintiff's Request for Production 1(f).
seeks information about income derived by the expert
witnesses from their work as experts and the amount of time
spent doing that type of work. “An expert witness's
potential biases are a relevant topic of inquiry and are thus
within the scope of discovery. A party seeking such discovery
should point to something that demonstrates that the
requested documents are both relevant and proportional to the
needs of the case, as Rule 26 dictates.” Allstate
Ins. Co. v. Electrolux Home Prod., Inc., No. 16-CV-4161,
2017 WL 5478297, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 15, 2017) (citations
seeks information about all expert testimony provided in
other cases for the last four years, and all expert reports
created by Defendants' experts in any cases over the last
four years. In addition, she seeks information about all
cases the experts worked on as consulting expert witnesses.
Defendants object to providing expert reports created by
their experts in unrelated matters or information about all
of the cases the experts have consulted for without
testifying. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 provides that
facts known by or opinions of non-testifying experts are
generally non-discoverable without a showing of
“exceptional circumstances.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(4)(D). Other than a general desire to determine bias,
Plaintiff has not given any reason she needs to obtain work
product and specific identification of all of the cases on
which experts have served as consultants and the identities
of all attorneys with whom they have worked. She has not made
any showing of exceptional circumstances that specific
information about consulting work done in these other,
unrelated cases is relevant to this case. Information about
cases at which the witnesses testified as experts at trial or
deposition can be provided, and it appears has already been
provided as part of the Rule 26 cases lists. In ...