United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS AND TO
J. Dinsmore Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Sanctions and to Compel. [Dkt. 185.] For the
reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN
PART and DENIES AS MOOT IN PART
Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) action,
Plaintiff asserts Defendant mixed credit information
belonging to another consumer (in this case, Plaintiff's
son) into Plaintiff's credit file and failed to
adequately correct the issue. Plaintiff contends that the
inaccurate information was then included by Defendant in
consumer reports about Plaintiff resulting in the loss of
credit opportunity. In this discovery dispute, Plaintiff
primarily seeks the documentation relied upon by Defendant
when it determined Plaintiff had a “mixed file” -
that is a credit file that had become intermingled with
another consumer's file. Defendant has refused to produce
the information, first asserting that Plaintiff agreed to
depose a key employee (Lynn Prindes, formerly Lynn
Romanowski) regarding the investigation in lieu of receiving
the responsive documents. Defendant also argues that because
Ms. Prindes based her decision upon a review of data from
Defendant's electronic database, as opposed to physical
documents, no documents exist that are responsive to
Plaintiff's request. Unable to resolve the dispute
informally or during a discovery conference with the Court,
Plaintiff filed this motion.
proceeding to the merits of Plaintiff's Motion, the Court
must first address the General Objections and Objections to
Definitions and Instructions asserted by Defendant and the
extensive use of boilerplate objections within its responses.
When a party raises objections to discovery requests, the
objecting party bears the burden to explain
precisely why its objections are proper given the
broad and liberal construction of the federal discovery
rules. In re Aircrash Disaster Near Roselawn, Inc.
Oct. 31, 1994, 172 F.R.D. 295, 307 (N.D. Ill.
1997); see also Cunningham v. Smithkline
Beecham, 255 F.R.D. 474, 478 (N.D. Ind. 2009).
objections to discovery requests that merely recite
boilerplate language without explanation do not meet this
burden, and courts within the Seventh Circuit consistently
overrule them or entirely disregard such objections.
See Novelty, Inc. v. Mountain View Mktg., Inc.,
265 F.R.D. 370, 375 (S.D. Ind. 2009)
(“‘general objections' made without
elaboration, whether placed in a separate section or repeated
by rote in response to each requested category, are not
‘objections' at all-and will not be
considered”); Burkybile v. Mitsubishi Motors Corp.,
2006 WL 2325506, at *9 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (overruling
boilerplate objections made generally and without
“kitchen sink” General Objections, and in fact,
general objections by their very nature, make no attempt to
articulate a basis specific to a request. As other Seventh
Circuit district courts have noted, “[m]aking general
objections is a dangerous practice, as the party who offers
such general objections runs the risk of having them
summarily denied.” Avante International Technology,
Inc. v. Hart Intercivic, Inc., 2008 WL 2074093 at *2 (S.D.
Ill. 2008). That is precisely what this Court will do.
Defendant's General Objections to both the
interrogatories and requests for production and Objections to
Definitions and Instructions within the interrogatories are
OVERRULED in their entirety.
also asserts numerous boilerplate objections with regard to
the particular interrogatory and request for production at
issue in this motion. In its response to Interrogatory No. 3,
Defendant objected that the term “mixed file” was
not defined by Plaintiff (even though Defendant also asserted
blanket objections to Plaintiff's definitions). Defendant
asserted, without explanation, the interrogatory was overly
broad, unduly burdensome and not proportional to the needs of
case. Defendant likewise baldly asserted the interrogatory
sought confidential trade secret information and information
protected by attorney-client and work product privilege.
These objections make no attempt to explain with specificity
why the interrogatory is improper. As such, the Court
OVERRULES Defendant's objections to
Interrogatory No. 3. See Novelty, Inc. v.
Mountain View Marketing, Inc., 265 F.R.D. 370, 375 (S.D.
Ind. 2009) (failure to make specific legitimate objections to
discovery requests may result in the court deeming the
response to Request for Production No. 37 likewise included a
litany of baseless objections, including an objection on the
grounds that the terms “electronically stored
information, ” “reviewed, ” “used,
” “viewed, ” “considered, ” and
“relied upon” are vague and ambiguous and an
objection based upon burden that is wholly unsubstantiated.
Defendant also asserted this blanket objection to the
request: “Trans Union objects to this Request to the
extent it seeks confidential, proprietary and/or trade secret
information and/or information protected by the
attorney-client privilege, the attorney work-product doctrine
or any other applicable privilege.” [Dkt. 186-2 at
12.] Again, these objections fail to provide the
opposing party, and the Court, with any specificity as to how
the objection applies to the information sought.
Additionally, if it was Defendant's intent to withhold
any documents from this less than forthcoming response (as it
clearly has done), it was Defendant's obligation under
Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b))(2)(C) to specifically
identify any documents being so withheld. The Court
OVERRULES each objection Defendant asserts
specific to Request for Production No.3.
Interrogatory No. 3 and Request for Production No.
issue in this motion are Defendant's responses to
Interrogatory No. 3 and Request for Production No. 37.
Interrogatory No. 3 asked whether Plaintiff had a
“mixed file” and to identify the information
Defendant relied upon in making that determination. [Dkt.
186-1 at 5-6.] The related later-served request for
production (No. 37) sought “Any documents or
electronically stored information reviewed, used, examined,
viewed, considered, or relied upon by Lynn Romanowski as
referenced in Defendant's response to Interrogatory No.
3.” [Dkt. 186-2 at 11.]
served an answer [Dkt. 186-1 at 6], a first
supplemental answer [Dkt. 186-3 at 2], and a second
supplemental answer [186-4 at 2] to Interrogatory No. 3. Each
response begrudgingly offered slightly more information on
the process Ms. Prindes underwent to determine Plaintiff had
a mixed file. However, none of the responses
identified the information relied upon by
Ms. Prindes in making that determination, as requested by the
interrogatory. Instead, Defendant states that “relying
upon information located within Trans Union's database,
Ms. Prindes was able to determine when the two files were
combined and then what caused the two files to
combine.” [Dkt. 186-4 at 2.] Defendant
nevertheless maintains this response is complete.
asserting a litany of objections overruled by the Court
above, the following is Defendant's remaining substantive
response to Request for Production No. 37: “Trans Union
states that it has made reasonable inquiry and the
information it knows or can readily obtain at this time is
insufficient to enable it to determine whether any responsive
materials are being withheld because Lynn Romanowski cannot
recall specific documents or ...