United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
SHEILA L. WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
JACOB TOVO and HASMUKH PATEL, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Rodovich, United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the court on the Motion to Compel Expert
Disclosures [DE 17] filed by the defendant, Jacob Tovo, on
January 30, 2018, and the Motion to Strike [DE 21] filed by
the plaintiff, Sheila Washington, on February 7, 2018. For
the following reasons, the Motion to Compel Expert
Disclosures [DE 17] is GRANTED, and the
Motion to Strike [DE 21] is DENIED.
Washington initiated this matter on March 22, 2017. She has
alleged that she suffered injuries from a car accident that
occurred on April 10, 2015. Washington has claimed that the
defendants, Jacob Tovo and Hasmukh Patel, were at fault for
causing the accident.
court held a Rule 16 Preliminary Pretrial Conference on May
5, 2017. At the conference, the court set October 30, 2017 as
the deadline for Washington to produce expert witness
disclosures and reports to the defendants. Tovo has indicated
that Washington produced her expert disclosures, however, the
disclosures did not comply with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 26. On November 17, 2017, Washington requested
leave to supplement her Rule 26(a)(2) disclosures, which the
court granted. Washington provided Tovo her supplemental
disclosures on December 27, 2017. Tovo has argued that the
supplemental disclosures are not rule-compliant. Therefore,
he has filed the motion to compel requesting that Washington
be ordered to produce complete and thorough Rule 26 reports.
filed a Motion to Strike [DE 21] on February 7, 2017.
Washington has argued that the Motion to Compel [DE 17] does
not contain a separate supporting brief and that at no time
prior to the filing of the motion did the parties meet and
confer regarding the dispute over the Rule 26 disclosures.
Tovo did not file a Local Rule 37-1 certification along with
party filing any discovery motion must file a separate
certification that the party has conferred in good faith or
attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort
to resolve the matter raised in the motion without court
action.” N.D. Ind. L.R. 37-1(a). The certification must
include the date, time, and place of any conference or
attempted conference and the names of any participating
parties. N.D. Ind. L.R. 37-1(a)(1) and (2). The court may
deny any motion that failed to include the required
certification. N.D. Ind. L.R. 37-1(b).
has argued that the motion to compel should be stricken,
denied, or not ruled on because Tovo has not followed the
prerequisites for filing the motion. However, Tovo contends
that he took necessary steps to resolve the dispute. First,
after receiving Washington's first disclosures Tovo wrote
Washington a letter that addressed the disclosures compliance
with Rule 26. The letter included citations to two Northern
District of Indiana cases that outlined the proper Rule
26(a)(2) disclosures requirements. Next, Tovo has indicated
that after receiving Washington's supplemental
disclosures he sent a letter, along with the motion to compel
and a request for rule compliant disclosures to Washington.
Tovo has indicated that he never received a response.
has argued that the parties did not met in-person to discuss
the expert witness disclosures. However, the Federal rules
and Local rules are silent on in-person meetings. Moreover,
Washington has argued that Tovo failed to comply with N.D. of
Ind. L.R. 7-1(b)(2), which provides that parties must file a
supporting brief with any motion under Federal Rule of Civil
Washington's motion has merit, the court will address the
underlying issues because striking Tovo's motion pursuant
to Local Rules 37-1 and 7-1(b)(2) will simply delay the
resolution of this dispute. See Felling v. Knight,
2001 WL 1782361, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 21, 2001)
(“[T]he briefs leave little doubt that the parties will
not reach mutual agreement on the issues raised. Therefore,
the court will address the underlying issues rather than deny
the motion solely on the basis of a procedural shortcoming.
To hold otherwise would do little other than delay resolution
of these issues . . . .”). Courts have broad discretion
in determining whether the moving party has satisfied the
meet-and-confer component of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
37(a)(1) and Local Rule 37-1. Sowell v. Dominguez,
2011 WL 4496505, at *3 (N.D. Ind. 2011); see Lucas v. GC
Servs. L.P., 226 F.R.D. 328, 335 (N.D. Ind. 2004)
(finding the plaintiffs' lack of compliance not fatal
when the motion reflected an effort to confer with the
defendants). The communication described by Tovo somewhat
complies with the purpose of Rule 37-1. Therefore, the court
will not strike the motion for its procedurals shortcomings.
The Motion to Strike [DE 21] is DENIED.
may “obtain discovery regarding any matter, not
privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any
party, including the existence, description, nature, custody,
condition and location of any books, documents, or other
tangible things.” Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
26(b)(1). For discovery purposes, relevancy is construed
broadly to encompass “any matter that bears on, or that
reasonably could lead to other matter[s] that could bear on,
any issue that is or may be in the case.” Chavez v.
DaimlerChrysler Corp., 206 F.R.D. 615, 619 (S.D. Ind.
2002) (quoting Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders,
437 U.S. 340, 351, 98 S.Ct. 2380, 2389, 57 L.Ed.2d 253
(1978)). Even when information is not directly related to the
claims or defenses identified in the pleadings, the
information still may be relevant to the broader subject
matter at hand and meet the rule's good cause standard.
Borom v. Town of Merrillville, 2009 WL 1617085, at
*1 (N.D. Ind. June 8, 2009) (citing Sanyo Laser Prods.,
Inc. v. Arista Records, Inc., 214 F.R.D. 496, 502 (S.D.
Ind. 2003)); see Adams v. Target, 2001 WL 987853, at
*1 (S.D. Ind. July 30, 2001) (“For good cause, the
court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the
subject matter involved in the action.”); Shapo v.
Engle, 2001 WL 629303, at *2 (N.D. Ill. May 25, 2001)
(“Discovery is a search for the truth.”).
may seek an order to compel discovery when an opposing party
fails to respond to discovery requests or has provided
evasive or incomplete responses. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 37(a)(2)-(3). The burden “rests upon the
objecting party to show why a particular discovery request is
improper.” Gregg v. Local 305 Ibew, 2009 WL
1325103, at *8 (N.D. Ind. May 13, 2009) (citing Kodish v.
Oakbrook Terrace Fire Prot. Dist., 235 F.R.D. 447,
449-50 (N.D. Ill. 2006)); McGrath v. Everest Nat. Ins.
Co., 2009 WL 1325405, at *3 (N.D. Ind. May 13, 2009)
(internal citations omitted); Carlson Restaurants
Worldwide, Inc. v. Hammond Prof'l Cleaning Servs.,
2009 WL 692224, at *5 (N.D. Ind. March 12, 2009) (internal
citations omitted). The objecting party must show with
specificity that the request is improper. Cunningham v.
SmithklineBeecham, 255 F.R.D. 474, 478 (N.D. Ind. 2009)
(citing Grahamv.Casey=sGen. Stores, 206 F.R.D. 253,
254 (S.D. Ind. 2002)). That burden cannot be met by “a
reflexive invocation of the same baseless, often abused
litany that the requested discovery is vague, ambiguous,
overly broad, unduly burdensome or that it is neither
relevant nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery
of admissible evidence.” Cunningham, 255
F.R.D. at 478 (citing Burkybile v. Mitsubishi Motors
Corp., 2006 WL 2325506, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 2, 2006))
(internal quotations and citations omitted). Rather, the
court, under its broad discretion, considers “the
totality of the circumstances, weighing the value of material
sought against the burden of providing it, and taking into
account society's interest in furthering the
truth-seeking function in the particular case before the
court.” Berning v. UAW Local 2209, 242 F.R.D.
510, 512 (N.D. Ind. 2007) (examining Patterson v. Avery
Dennison Corp., 281 F.3d 676, 681 (7th Cir. 2002))
(internal quotations and citations omitted); see Hunt v.
DaVita, Inc., 680 F.3d 775, 780 (7th Cir. 2012)
(explaining that the district court has broad discretion in
has requested that the court compel Washington to produce
complete Rule 26 reports. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure